Zhou delivers peak performance to defend 1,500m short-track title

China's Zhou Yang defended her Olympic Games short track title on Saturday when she triumphed in the 1,500m.

Zhou, who was third in the World Cup rankings this season, rediscovered her best form at the Iceberg Skating Palace when it mattered most.

The 22-year-old posted a time of 2 minutes 19.140 seconds to edge 17-year-old Shim Suk-Hee of the Republic of Korea, who also finished second at the world championships. The Korean clocked in 2:19.239, while Italy's Arianna Fontana claimed bronze in 2:19.416

“I was nervous at the beginning, but after I finished it I felt so thrilled,” said Zhou, who became the third Chinese athlete to win gold at Sochi 2014.

Zhou skilfully avoided a collision that wiped out three of her rivals then made her dash for gold at the ideal moment.

Approaching the final lap, Shim Suk-Hee, who had herself put in a sensational performance, was cruising in front when Zhou darted back to the inside and snatched the lead.

Once in front, Zhou never relented, thrusting her arms in the air after surging clear of her rivals to cross the line.

“I've been through a lot during the past four years,” said the two-time champion.

“I didn't expect I could come back to the Olympic Games. I just wanted to do my best during training and competition.”