Choi Minjeong and Shaoang Liu dominate World Short Track Speed Skating Championships

Republic of Korea's three-time Olympic gold medallist Choi Minjeong won four finals at the weekend's World Champs in Montreal to be crowned overall women's champion. Hungary's Shaoang Liu takes the men's title with three victories on the ice. 

By Sean McAlister
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

The World Short Track Speed Skating Championships have come to an end, with Republic of Korea's Choi Minjeong and Hungary's Shaoang Liu dominating the medal tables.

In a championship that was missing some of the sport's biggest talents, including the Netherlands' Suzanne Schulting who pulled out at the last minute after a positive COVID-19 test and Italy's most successful Winter Olympian Arianna Fontana, it was Choi and Liu who shared the majority of the golds, with six of the eight individual titles won by the two athletes.

When the final medal counts were tallied, Republic of Korea topped the table with nine medals including five golds, with Hungary second with four golds. Hosts Canada also had a strong showing with a total of seven silver medals.

Choi Minjeong tops the podium five times to be crowned overall champion

Republic of Korea had much to shout about in Montreal as Choi won the 1000m, 1500m and 3000m superfinal crowns, as well as the 3000m relay event alongside her teammates Kim Alang, Seo Whimin, Shim Sukhee and Park Jiyun.

The three-time Olympic champion, who most recently won gold in the 1500m at Beijing 2022, was on a different level to her opposition and cantered to a fourth overall title.

“I have four now. I am looking to go for more and open the door for more possible titles. I am going to try my best and get myself to always try and achieve something new,” a delighted Choi said after taking the overall crown.

Canada's Kim Boutin also enjoyed a slew of silverware, coming second in every event from the 500m through to the 3000m relay. The only other winner in the women's competition was Netherlands' Xandra Velzeboer who took the 500m crown in a time of 42.476.

Shaoang Liu takes triple gold and overall men’s title

In the men's competition, the star of the field was Hungary's Liu, who triumphed in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m. The 24-year-old, who won gold in the 500m at Beijing 2022 and bronze in the 1000m and mixed team relay, took a total of 104 points en route to his second overall title in as many championships.

“I think (the 1000m final) was the hardest race I ever had in my life. I had to keep my head 100 percent focused. Today was special because I didn’t have a good sleep or good recovery. I had to keep calm in my mind,” Liu said following his title-winning 1000m race. 

Canada's Pascal Dion won gold in the 3000m superfinal and silver in the 1500m, with Quentin Fercoq of France second in the 500m and Republic of Korea's Lee Juneseo the silver medallist in the 1000m.

As was the case in the women's race, the men's relay was won by the Republic of Korea team with Han Seungsoo, Kwak Yoongy, Lee Juneseo and Park Inwook claiming gold ahead of Netherlands and Canada.

Hamelin wins 38th World Championships medal in career farewell

One of the most poignant moments of the championships was Canada's Charles Hamelin winning a bronze medal in what was his last international competition. Hamelin has won 38 world championship medals, including this last one in the 5000m relay.

"It is one of the best things that happened to me," the 37-year-old said in a statement. "The chance to finish at home, with my family in the stands, is the greatest feeling. It is almost like any Olympics I went to."

The bronze medal follows the gold Hamelin won with his teammates in the relay event at Beijing 2022, and he retires as Canada's most successful male Winter Olympian with six medals including four golds from five Olympic Games.

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