Olympic legend Lee Sang-hwa hangs up skatesTwo-time Olympic speed skating gold medalist Lee Sang-hwa announced her retirement Friday, putting an end to an illustrious career that includes a world record and multiple world championships.
Lee will go down as one of Korea’s greatest winter sport athletes and also among the very best speed skaters of her generation.
Lee won the gold medal in the women’s 500 meters at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and repeated as the Olympic champion four years later in Sochi, Russia.
In between these two Olympics, Lee broke four world records. Her mark of 36.36 seconds, set on Nov. 16, 2013, in Salt Lake City, Utah, remains the gold standard in the women’s 500 meters.
In the lead-up to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics last year on home ice, Lee battled nagging left knee and right calf injuries.
Her Japanese rival, Nao Kodaira, started beating Lee with regularity at international events, leading to whispers that Lee was finished as a top-level skater.
Lee bounced back in time to take the silver medal behind Kodaira at PyeongChang 2018, a gutsy performance that silenced naysayers but also signaled the nearing end.
Lee hasn’t competed since the end of the Olympics and finally ended speculation about her future in the world of elite skating by calling it quits Friday.