Choi powers to 1,500m short track gold

Choi Min-jeong of the Republic of Korea sent the capacity crowd at the Gangneung Ice Arena into raptures as she stormed to the Olympic women’s 1,500m short track speed skating title at PyeongChang 2018 on Saturday 17 February.

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Biding her time in the middle of the seven-strong field in the early stages of the final, Choi, the world record holder at the distance and a three-time winner on the World Cup circuit this season, took a wide line with four laps remaining to surge into the lead.

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The ROK skater retained it in the most impressive fashion, breaking metres clear of the chasing pack to claim the second women’s short track gold of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in commanding fashion and trigger joyous scenes among the vocal home fans. Among those celebrating at the Gangneung Ice Arena were Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook. Taking second place behind Choi was China’s Li Jinyu, with Canada’s Kim Boutin adding another bronze to the one she collected in the 500m on 13 February.

“It’s been the biggest dream of mine for four years. I can’t put it into words,” said Choi, who made up for the disappointment of her disqualification for interference in the 500m final. “I’m so proud. I feel physically burned out but I’m so happy on the inside, so proud of my whole country.”

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Jorien ter Mors of the Netherlands, who won the 1,000m speed skating title on 14 February, placed fifth, while PyeongChang 2018 500m champion Arianna Fontana of Italy, a 1,500m bronze medallist at Sochi 2014, came home seventh and was unable to add to her tally of six Olympic medals. Finishing just ahead of Fontana in sixth was Petra Jaszapati of Hungary, a double silver medallist at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lillehammer 2016.

Elise Christie of Great Britain, the reigning world champion at the distance, crashed out in the semi-finals after tangling with Li, who also fell but advanced to the final after Christie received a penalty. Defending Olympic champion Zhou Yang of China finished third in her semi-final before going on to win the B Final.