Kim Min-seok wins Korea's first medal of the Beijing Olympics
Speed skater Kim Min-seok won Korea's first medal of the 2022 Beijing Games, taking bronze in the men's 1500 meters at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing on Tuesday evening.
This is Kim’s second consecutive 1500-meter bronze medal, having also come third in the event at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, becoming the first Asian athlete to medal at that distance.
Kim crossed the finish line with a time of 1:44.24, 1.03 seconds behind world record holder and gold medalist Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands, who crossed the finish line with an Olympic record of 1:43.21.
Kim’s time would have won him a silver medal at the PyeongChang Games, where he took bronze with a time of 1:44.93. Nuis also won gold in PyeongChang.
On Tuesday, Kim skated in group 11 alongside Nuis, starting out the race on the inner lane. Kim started out his first lap in fifth place with a time of 23.75 seconds, then skated his second lap with a time of 25.38 seconds, stepping up to third position. Kim was able to keep that third position until the end, skating the third lap with a time of 26.61 seconds and finishing his last lap with a time of 28.50 seconds.
Kim then had to wait on the sidelines while eight more skaters completed their races, but nobody was able to knock Kim off the podium.
“For the Beijing Games, I prepared a lot to become an Olympic champion,” said Kim after the race.
“I won the bronze medal in PyeongChang and I think I have improved since then, but other athletes have also gotten better as well. I did all that I could and I have no regrets with my race. The Dutch athletes were just better.”
Kim is the first Korean to reach the podium at the 2022 Winter Games, which is surprisingly familiar territory as he was also the first Korean to medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
“I had no idea that I would become the first Korean to medal in Beijing,” said Kim. “I hope that my medal can be of some help for Team Korea.”
Alongside Kim, Park Seong-hyeon finished in 21st position with a time of 1:47.59. Park only joined Team Korea at the last minute with one speed skater withdrawing from the Games on Jan. 25.
Kim's medal comes after a grueling few days for Team Korea, with a number of the country's top athletes coming up empty-handed in sports like short track speed skating and snowboarding. Finally getting on the board will not only motivate the athletes in Beijing, but also give fans at home something to cheer about.
Kim isn't finished yet, as he will be back on the ice to compete in both the team pursuit and men’s 1000-meter race.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]