SPORTS

[PyeongChang 2018] Cha Min-kyu denied gold in 500m by whisker

By Joel Lee
  • Published : Feb 19, 2018 - 22:39
  • Updated : Feb 19, 2018 - 22:39
South Korean Cha Min-kyu clinched the silver medal in the men’s speedskating 500 meters Monday evening, finishing second by a whisker behind winner and world No. 1 Havard Lorentzen of Norway.

Cha came in at 34.42 seconds -- 0.01 second behind the Norwegian -- at Gangneung Oval in Gangneung, one of two cities hosting the PyeongChang Winter Games. Cha’s teammates Kim Jun-ho and Mo Tae-bum clocked in at 35.01 and 35.154 for 12th and 16th, respectively.

The bronze medal went to Gao Tingyu of China at 34.65 seconds.

Cha’s record ties that of Casey Fitzrandolph of the United States at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Cha raced against Junio Gilmore of Canada as the 14th pair, and clocked in at the 100-meter mark at 9.63, marking the fifth-fastest among the 28 skaters.

South Korean silver medalist in the men's 500m, Cha Min-kyu (Yonhap)

“I am very happy because I finished in the top three as I had planned,” said Cha following his win. “When I saw my record, I felt that I had succeeded in meeting my goal. But I feel it’s a little shame that I couldn’t top the race by a mere margin of 0.01 second. I thought winning the gold was possible after looking at my record.”

Noting that he could not race at the 2014 Sochi Games due to an ankle injury, the skater said he worked hard to prepare for PyeongChang systematically and thoroughly.

Cha’s silver put an end to a medal drought for the South Korea team in the event, the last coming at the 2010 Vancouver Games. It also follows a silver won by Lee Sang-hwa in the women’s 500 on Sunday evening.

The 24-year old sprinter, who was No. 9 in the 2017-2018 world rankings, became the third South Korean Olympic medalist in the men‘s 500 meters speedskating, following Lee Kang-seok winning bronze at Turin 2006 and Mo Tae-bum taking gold in 2010.

Cha, who switched from short track speedskating to long track in 2011, had been dubbed a dark horse in the competition by the media, as he has collected a series of high-profile wins over the last three years. In December, the South Korean grabbed silver at the International Skating Union World Cup with a new personal-best time of 34.31 seconds.

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)