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Inside Adler Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Dutch speed skaters leave Lee in the shade

08 Feb 2014
Sochi, Russia: Skating in the last of 13 pairs in the men's 5,000 metres speed skating competition on Saturday, Korea's Lee Seung Hoon knew that an orange barricade stood between him and a place on the podium.Until this point, Netherlands skaters occupied first, second and third places in the standings, leaving Lee and Germany's Patrick Beckert as the last pair on the ice.

The Korean flags began to fly in the stands of the Adler Arena in Olympic Park, as Lee -  5,000m silver medallist at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics - began his challenge.

It quickly became clear, though, that this was not going to be his day, and Lee fell further and further off the pace as the laps ticked by. Long before the end he knew his challenge had fizzled out, and he eventually clocked 6 minutes, 25.61 seconds to finish in a lowly 12th place of 26 starters, 14.85 seconds behind the winning time and over eight seconds slower than he skated in Vancouver when winning silver.

Sven Kramer broke the Olympic record to win gold in 6:10.76, followed by fellow Dutchmen Jan Blokhuijsen (6:15.71) and Jorrit Bergsma (6:16.66).

With the Honorary President of the IOC, Belgian Jacques Rogge, among the spectators, Belgium's Bart Swings had to settle for fourth place in 6:17.79.

Not surprisingly, a large crowd of Korean media gathered to interview Lee and find out what went wrong, but he would not stop and make any comments, such was his disappointment at failing to challenge for a medal in an event in which he had won silver four years earlier.

Lee, a former short track specialist who switched to long track when he failed to make the national short track team, still has the 10,000m to look forward to on Tuesday, February 18, when he will be defending the gold medal he won in Vancouver.
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