Olympic speed skaters are off to a fast start

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Olympic speed skaters are off to a fast start

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Left: Lee Seung-hoon holds up his silver medal during a medal ceremony for the men’s 5,000-meter speed skating competition at BC Place, the official ceremonies venue, yesterday. By Lim Hyun-dong Right: Lee Jung-su kisses his gold medal during a medal ceremony for the men’s 1,500-meter short-track speed skating event on the same day.[YONHAP]

Korea got off to an impressive start on the opening weekend of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, earning a gold medal in 1,500-meter short-track speed skating and a silver in men’s 5,000-meter speed skating.

While its dominant short-track speed skating team was expected to reach the podium, Korea got a pleasant surprise from its longer track speed skating team.

In winning the silver medal in the 5,000-meter race at the Richmond Olympic Oval on Sunday, Lee Seung-hoon became only the third Korean skater ever to medal in speed skating and the first Asian skater to win a medal in a long-distance speed skating contest.

Sven Kramer of the Netherlands, who was ranked No. 1 in the world, cruised to a gold medal with a time of 6 minutes 14.60 seconds. Lee’s time was 6 minutes 16.95 seconds. Ivan Skobrev of Russia won the bronze with a time of 6 minutes 18.05 seconds.

“With the silver medal, I was able to get past all the hard work and emotional hardship I had to endure after making the switch last year [from short-track skating],” Lee said to Korean media after the race.

“It’s all a result of a tough training regimen. I also continued to train in the short track prior to coming to Vancouver. I was able to work on my cornering work and endurance through the short-track training.”

Lee, 21, was an accomplished short-track speed skater who made the switch to longer speed skating after failing to make the cut at the national tryouts in April of last year.

In the men’s 1,500-meter short track speed skating event at the Pacific Coliseum on Sunday, Korea entered three top medal prospects but came away with a gold after an unfortunate turn of events as two of them collided during the final lap of the race.

Lee Ho-suk and Sung Si-bak were the Olympic veterans but Lee Jung-su received the spotlight during qualifying rounds by setting two consecutive Olympic records.

Competing in his first Olympics, Lee Jung-su, 20, earned a gold with a time of 2 minutes 17.611 seconds.

Sung and Lee Ho-suk were second and third as they prepared to make the final turn but the two got tangled and wiped out, making way for Americans Apolo Anton Ohno and J.R. Celski to finish second and third respectively.

“Both skaters were medal prospects. However, short-track events are unpredictable and there are no guarantees. Both skaters congratulated me on the win despite missing out on winning medals,” said Lee Jung-su.


By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

올림픽-[쇼트트랙] 이정수, 1,500m 첫 금


2010 밴쿠버 동계올림픽을 앞두고 AP통신이 이정수(21.단국대)를 쇼트트랙 3관왕 후보로 꼽자 쇼트트랙을 웬만큼 아는 사람들이라도 고개를 갸웃했다.

대표팀의 에이스인 이호석(24.고양시청)이 맏형으로서 든든히 자리를 지킨 상황에서 이정수를 금메달 후보로 지목한 부분은 이해하기 쉽지 않았다.

이정수 역시 AP통신이 자신을 금메달 후보로 지목한 것을 놓고 재미있다는 듯 웃음을 지었다. 하지만 이정수는 마음속에 '금메달의 꿈'을 꾸준히 키워왔고, 마침내 실전에서 실력으로서 자신의 기량을 인정받았다.

14일(한국시간) 캐나다 밴쿠버 퍼시픽 콜리시움에서 치러진 2010 밴쿠버 동계올림픽 쇼트트랙 남자 1,500m 결승에 나선 이정수는 2분17초611로 아폴로 안톤 오노(미국.2분17초976)를 제치고 금메달의 주인공이 됐다.

자신의 올림픽 데뷔 무대를 금빛으로 물들이며 한국 선수단에 1호 금메달을 안긴 이정수는 주니어 시절부터 꾸준히 실력을 다져왔다.

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