Short track team overcome hurdles to take relay silver
Korea won the women's 3,000-meter relay silver medal at the Beijing Olympics on Sunday, despite the team of Choi Min-jeong, Kim A-lang, Seo Whi-min and Lee Yu-bin having little experience skating together.
Korea raced in the order of Kim, Choi, Lee and Seo. Korea started in last position and remained at the back of the pack for the majority of the race. It wasn't until the final three of 27 laps that Kim pushed past China into third place, and then Choi took over to finish the race.
Choi is known for her last-minute comebacks and this was no exception. Pushing into the outer lane, Choi was able to force her way past Canada in the very last lap to take second place.
The Netherlands won gold and set a new Olympic record of 4:03.409. China took the bronze medal.
This marks Korea’s third consecutive women’s 3,000-meter relay medal, after winning the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics gold medal and the 2018 PyeongChang gold medal. This is also Korea’s seventh medal at the event since it was introduced at the 1992 Winter Games.
But while Choi and Kim were both in the relay team that medaled in PyeongChang and Sochi and have years of experience racing together, Lee and especially Seo have far less experience in the Olympic relay race.
Lee was part of the PyeongChang relay team but did not actually race in the final, becoming a regular inclusion in the four years since the Games. Seo, aged 19, has never appeared at the Olympics before.
The four skaters were put together as a relay team at the last minute in part due to the absense of Shim Suk-hee, who is currently suspended from the national team.
The silver medal comes as Choi’s second medal at the Beijing Games, making her the only Korean athlete so far to win more than one medal. Choi won the women’s 1,000-meter individual silver medal on Friday.
“As I entered the medal plaza [on Friday], I wanted to come back with my teammates,” Choi said Sunday after the race. “And now that we can, it feels great.”
Also speaking after the race, veteran skater Kim highlighted the importance of the achievement considering how little experience the team have together.
“The first thing I want to say is that when we were preparing for the World Cup, we had lots of changes in our relay members,” said Kim. “It’s safe to say that the four of us have never competed together before and so we didn’t have much time to prepare. But I think we did a good job concentrating and working together up to the Olympics.
“Before the final race, our objective was to give everything that we had and I am relieved that we could do that today.”
Kim, Lee and Choi will return to the ice on Wednesday for the women’s 1,500-meter race.
They enter that race as serious medal contenders: Choi has held the women's 1,500-meter world record of 2:14.354 since November, 2016 and Lee is the current world No. 1.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]