Feb 15, 2010
Vancouver (AFP) - South Korea's Mo Tae-Bum won the men's 500 metres speedskating Olympic title Monday on , the nation's first ever gold at the Winter Games outside short-track.
In an Asian cleansweep, Mo's combined time for his two runs was 69.82sec, putting him 0.16sec ahead of Japan's silver medallist Keiichiro Nagashima, whose teammate Joji Kato took the bronze in a time of 70.01.
Mo was paired with Canadian world record holder Jeremy Wotherspoon in his second run after notching the second-best time of 34.92 in his first outing at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
It meant he had a nervous wait while he watched Kato, who was third after his first run, and Finland's Mika Poutala, who qualified in first position with a time of 34.86 but neither was able to edge past the South Korean.
"I raced a lot better than expected in the first race. So it gave me courage to do better in the second race," said the champion.
"I kept practicing over and over again and I think that was very important and I really wanted to do well. It's my best birthday present and it's my present to Koreans."
Mo's thoughts will now turn to the 1,000m and 1,500m events. In the 1,000m he is currently second in the World Cup rankings.
"The 500m is not my strongest. I'm looking forward to the 1,000m and I'm going to try my best in that race as well," he said.
South Korean world champion Lee Kang-Seok, third in the event at the 2006 Turin Games, missed out on a medal, finishing in fourth, with his rival Lee Kyou-Hyuk well off the pace in 15th.
Asia's only previous Olympic long-track speedskating gold medal was won by Japan's Hiroyasu Shimizu in 1998 on home ice at Nagano, although at least one Asian skater has reached the 500m Olympic men's podium since 1984.
Sentimental favourite Wotherspoon, who holds the world record of 68.31, ended in ninth spot.
Nagashima said he was surprised by Mo's performance.
"I did not expect it at all. I expected the two Lee's (Kang-Seok and Kyou-Hyuk) but not Mo."
And he said his silver was a family affair.
"My dad was in the stands and the moment he found out that I won a medal he was bawling his eyes out and I was so happy. My dad doesn't usually watch me but he was there today. So I was overwhelmed by that," he said.
Bronze medallist Kato said: "I was expecting the gold medal, so it is unfortunate that I could not get it. I regret a little bit that I could not get gold."
The event had been interrupted because of a problem with the ice surface.
A total of 19 athletes had raced earlier in the programme before a scheduled break for ice preparation but when the interval came there were problems with the machine used at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
Kato said the problems were not a factor in his performance.
"The conditions are the same for everyone. It's not only me being affected by the delay."
South Korea's Lee wins women's 500m
Feb 16, 2010
Vancouver (AFP) - South Korea's Lee Sang-Hwa won the women's 500 metres speedskating Olympic title Tuesday, ahead of Germany's Jenny Wolf and China's Wang Beixing.
Lee notched a combined time of 76.09secs for her two runs (38.24 and 37.85), just 0.05secs ahead of hot favourite Wolf. Wang's time was 76.63secs.