Men 1500m podium ©Getty Images
The atmosphere in the Gangneung Ice Arena for the Men’s 1500m final was electric. The race made Olympic history with nine finalists. Hyojun Lim (KOR) took advantage of the home crowd’s cheering to go get gold in a new Olympic Record time of 2:10.485. The world record holder from the Netherlands, Sjinkie Knegt, got the silver medal and an emotional Semen Elistratov from the Olympic Athlete from Russia finished third.
The Canadians Charles Hamelin and Samuel Girard tried to sit at the front of the pack, but once Hyojun Lim and Daehon Hwang from Korea made their move, they took control of the race. Hamelin ended up with a penalty for impeding, but in the mixed zone the veteran shared some words of wisdom: “It might not have been the result I wanted, but the positive is that I was able to go through the rounds (of the 1500m heats) with Samuel. We have been room sharing for the past two years at events, so we are close.”
Sjinkie Knegt (NED) and Hyojun Lim (KOR) ©Getty Images
Sjinkie Knegt managed to make it to the front of the pack with five laps to go but he said his tactic was not the best: “I came to the front too early and Lim was the best today”. When asked if his performance has an impact in the Netherlands, a country dominated by Speed Skating, he commented: “My medal does make Short Track more popular in the Netherlands. Sports results are important and do make a difference”. Today the Netherlands swept the Ladies 3000m Speed Skating event, Knegt’s silverware makes a total of a record number of four medals in one day for the Netherlands.
Hyojun Lim was in shock after he won the race, but knows the job is not finished: “I'm stunned and it's unbelievable, but it's not finished yet. I will also be trying my best for the relay on the 22nd (of February)." His 1500m gold medal gives Korea its third gold medal in the distance, Victor An in 2006 and Jung-Su Lee in 2010 also won gold for Korea in this event. Lim says the gold medal is the result of a lot of hard work and a team effort: “I have been dreaming of this my whole life and the 16 athletes from Korea (Short Track team) have prepared well to be at this stage. I didn’t do well by myself, I would like to thank my team and the 12,000 spectators to whom I am very grateful.”
🗣 “I was nervous in the preliminaries but I liked the quality of the ice. I knew if I made it to the final I had good chances” Lim Hyojun, 1500m Olympic Champion.— ISU Speed Skating (@ISU_Speed) February 10, 2018
#️⃣ #ShortTrackSkating pic.twitter.com/a4I90Y71Su
The 2015 World Champion in the 1500m, Semen Elistratov (OAR), could hardly hide his emotions: "I have difficulties to hold back my tears. I had said before that any individual medal will be a golden or platinum one for me. I am incredibly happy that I did it, in spite of all the circumstances around Russian sport. I dedicate this medal to all guys that have been excluded from these Games in such a hard and unfair way. This medal is for you.”
Samuel Girard (CAN), J.R. Celski (USA), Semen Elistratov (OAR) in the 1500m Semi Final © Getty Images
The six other competitors in the final were Girard, who finished in fourth, followed by Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN), Itzhak de Laat (NED) and Thibaut Fauconnet (FRA). Daeheon Hwang (KOR) did not finish while Hamelin got a penalty.
A new Olympic Record in the Ladies 500m heats
In the qualifying heats of the Ladies 500m, things went pretty much as expected except for Suk Hee Shim (KOR), who did not make it through the first round. On the other hand her teammate Minjeong Choi finished first in her heat in a new Olympic Record of 42.870. The Quarter, Semi and Final races will be on Tuesday February 13.
Korea makes the crowd go wild in the Ladies’ 3000m Relay semi-finals
In perhaps the most exciting and crowd-pleasing race of the day, the Korean team kept the public on tender hooks in the first heat of the Ladies 3000m Relay. They fell early in the race and had to work hard to catch the rest of skaters. Not only did they manage to catch up, but they finished in a new Olympic Record time of 4:06.387. Team Canada led most of the race until the Koreans caught up and eventually overtook them, making the local crowd go wild. Korea and Canada head to the A Final on Tuesday February 20. In the second heat the Chinese Ladies were even faster, breaking the new Olympic Record in 4:05.315 that was set only a few moments earlier. A photo finish determined between Italy and the Netherlands who finished second and would be in the Final A. In the end Italy will be preparing for the Final A.
Hungary, Olympic Athletes from Russia, Japan and the Netherlands will compete in the Final B.