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2ND LEAD Mixed short-track fortunes for hosts as Choi wins, Seo scrapes bronze By Barry Whelan, dpa

Europe, Europa
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Pyeongchang, South Korea (dpa) - Saturday was a topsy-turvy day for hosts South Korea in short-track speed skating at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

Choi Min Jeong delighted her home crowd by claiming gold in the women‘s 1,500 metres.

But in the men‘s 1,000m, compatriot Seo Yira - the reigning world champion - could only scramble a bronze after Hungary‘s Shaolin Sandor Liu caused chaos that left just two skaters standing at one point and allowed Canada‘s Samuel Girard to take an unlikely gold.

World-record holder Choi posted 2 minutes 24.948 seconds to finish ahead of China‘s Li Jinyu in second and Canada‘s Kim Boutin in third.

Choi was delighted with her gold medal after her dramatic loss to Italy‘s Arianna Fontana in the 500m event on Tuesday, from which she was disqualified for interference.

"It was the biggest dream of mine for four years, I can‘t put it into words. I am so proud of it. Physically I am so burned out but inside I am so happy, so proud of my whole country."

South Korean President Moon Jae-in watched her success from the stands, which Choi said was "very exciting."

Choi‘s victory denied China‘s Zhou Yang the chance to add to her 1,500m golds at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 and make history by becoming the first short-track skater to win the same Olympic event more than twice.

Zhou was well off the pace in Pyeongchang, finishing a disappointing eighth.

In the men‘s 1,000m, Canada‘s Girard took the tape at 1 minute 24.650 seconds to claim his first-ever tournament gold, having previously had three World Championship silvers and a bronze to his name.

Seo and compatriot Lim Hyo Jun were knocked over when Liu tried to pass them on the inside.

Seo got to his feet and crossed the line to take bronze behind American silver medallist John-Henry Krueger, but the result stunned a home crowd used to South Korean success in the event.

Before Girard, the only Olympic men‘s 1,000m gold-medallist not born in South Korea had been Australia‘s Steven Bradbury, who won in 2002. Afterwards, Girard struggled to take in the enormity of his feat.

"I think I‘m not realising right now," he said. "I think I will realise a little later. For now I‘m just enjoying the moment. For my family, my coach, I‘m really, really happy right now."

Asked about the chaos unfolding behind him, Girard said: "I didn‘t see it, I just heard a big boom in the mats. After that I was just thinking about my race and what I had to do. I was looking if someone was around to pass me on the line."

Liu was penalized for his part in the Koreans‘ downfall, capping a dismal day for him and his girlfriend, Britain‘s Elise Christie, who crashed out of the women‘s semi-final.

It has been a heartbreaking Games for Christie, who suffered the same fate in the 500m final on Tuesday.

The Scot, who has three World Championship golds from 2017, seems utterly luckless at the Olympics. She came home empty-handed from Sochi 2014 after being disqualified from each of the 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m.

After her latest crash on Saturday, Christie was taken to hospital, British chef de mission Mike Hays confirmed. "It‘s hard to write this, isn‘t it?" he said. "Right now it doesn‘t really matter about the race, it‘s really her health we are concerned about.

"She was in great form [before the race], saw her a couple of times, saw her interviews on TV, she was in a great place. It is just incredibly unfortunate."


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