Gold medal winner Li Jianrou (left) and bronze medallist Park Seung-Hi at the press conference following the women''s 500m short track final.
Li’s ‘miracle’ gold extends China’s proud record in women’s 500m short track
13 Feb 2014
Sochi, Russia: On a proud day for China, Li Jianrou extended her country’s dominance of the women’s 500m short track title to four consecutive Olympic Winter Games at the Iceberg Skating Palace on Thursday afternoon. China had won this race in 2002 through Yang Yang (A) and again in 2006 and 2010 thanks to Wang Meng, who was unable to attempt a third straight victory due to an ankle injury picked up in training last month.
In the absence of medal machine Wang, Li stepped up and emerged unscathed from a chaotic final which saw all her three rivals crash to the ice on the first lap.
Li clocked 45.263 seconds to take gold. Arianna Fontana of Italy won the silver in 51.250 and Korea’s Park Seung-Hi was awarded the bronze medal in 54.207 after Britain’s Elise Christie was penalised for starting the first-lap tumble.
The 27-year-old Chinese athlete was left to skate alone for almost the entire race and extend China’s record to four straight gold medals in this event. After the race she was hugged by her coach, Li Yan, and both were in tears.
“I was crying because I was so excited,” explained China’s latest Olympic champion. “My coach told me this gold medal was for Wang Meng also so I felt very moved.
“I regret that Wang Meng is not in Sochi. It is a shame for the China team so to have this gold medal I am really lucky. Winning this event four times in a row is really a victory for us all.”
Li favours the longer distances and is also entered in the 1500m and the 3,000m relay.
“This gold medal is a boost for my future performances,” she admitted. “I will try my best to perform better.”
Li finds herself with an Olympic gold medal at 27 years old and said it was the reward for never giving up and never losing hope of what could be achieved.
“For many athletes they have not many big moments in their career. For me I did not start very well but I wanted to be persistent and to keep believing in miracles. Now it came true.”