Canada's Hamelin edges Han, An for gold in 1,500Celski comes up just short of podium; Russia wins first short track medal
Charles Hamelin of Canada won the 1,500 meters in short track at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, proving that he was easily the strongest skater. China's Tianyu Han was the surprise winner of silver, and Victor An brought Russia the first medal in short track skating history, a bronze. American J.R. Celski just missed the podium in fourth.
Seven skaters from six different countries qualified for the "A" final, as only China was represented by two skaters: Han and Dequan Chen, the latter of whom did better than expected. Hamelin and Celski joined them, and it was really tight at the head of the race. Great Britain's Jack Whelbourne fought well early on, but with four laps to go, he was pushed and fell. Hamelin strode ahead for the Olympic gold, and there was a tight, photo finish between the next two skaters.
Hamelin's winning time was 2:14.985, followed by Han at 2:15.055, An at 2:15.062 and Celski at 2:15.624.
"For me, and even more for Canada, gold in the 1,500 is real important because we were a little disappointed with how we did in Vancouver in that distance, and we wanted to come back and have good results," Hamelin said. "The work I did with my coaches and teammates paid off in the races today and in [winning] the gold medal."
"It's my first Olympic Winter Games; I'm a little bit nervous," Han said. "I didn't think very much. I never thought I could make it to the finals, let alone stand on the podium. I took every round as my final and tried my best to compete."
"My greatest desire was to win the gold," An said. "We are working hard, dreaming of getting the gold. I don't have dissatisfaction over the fact the medal is not gold, that it is bronze. I believe at the other distances, I'll be able to cover them in a much cooler mode. I think now my physical state is best for the 500 and that will show in the results. I felt the support of the fans in the stadium. That played a significant role in my accomplishment."
"I was in a good position to try to win, but unfortunately that happens sometimes," Celski said of his fourth-place result. "I think the race was still slow enough to make moves like that, and unfortunately I lost my speed and got fourth. It's the longest race, so endurance plays a big factor.
"It's kind of like a progressive speed, and once that speed gets shoved back a little bit, it's hard to recover and try to get the momentum back up again," he continued. "The 1,500 is really unpredictable. It's very strategic. If the race is slow enough, people are able to make moves like that. I got unlucky in that one."
American Eddy Alvarez did not advance beyond the semifinals, finishing in 19th. His teammate, Chris Creveling, pulled into 21st place.