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Girard avoids chaos to claim gold in men’s 1,000m short track

Canada’s Samuel Girard steered clear of a late incident on the track to steal gold in the speed skating men’s 1,000m short track at the Gangneung Ice Arena at PyeongChang 2018 on Saturday 17 February.

With a crash taking out three of five skaters as the pack entered the final lap, Girard held off John-Henry Krueger (USA), who took the silver meal, while Republic of Korea’s Seo Yira was quickest to get to his feet to secure a bronze.

Reigning world champion Yira was joined by compatriot Lim Hyojun among the skaters who slid out of the race on the last lap after Shaolin Sandor Liu attempted to burst through on the inside. Liu was penalised.

Girard, who finished outside the medal positions in fourth place in the men's 1,500m, was a silver medallist in the 1,000m at the 2016 world championships in Seoul.

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Looking to the future

The 21-year-old Girard joined compatriots Charles Hamelin and Marc Gagnon as the only Canadian men to win an individual gold medal in short track at the Winter Games. Girard's gold was also Canada's ninth in short track history, equalling their event totals, for freestyle skiing and speed skating. They have won more only in ice hockey (13).

Girard admitted that he wanted to build on his victory and add to his medal collection in the future. "I really want to lead Canada to medal in World Cup and world championships and the next Winter Games for the next few years," he said.

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Korean influence

Krueger became the second man from the United States to win a medal in this event, following Apolo Anton Ohno who won one silver medal in 2002 and two bronze medals in 2006 and 2010. The 22-year-old Krueger admitted that winning silver had justified a lot of the decisions he had made in the four years preceding PyeongChang 2018, including training in Republic of Korea.

"There has been lots of moving around all over the world these last four years, lots of changes in my training," he said. "Tonight's results show that all the decisions I made leading up to these Winter Games were the right ones. Pretty much throughout my entire career, whether I was training in America or here, I always had a Korean influence on my training. I spent lots of time on dynamic training and technique in the two years I spent here."

Krueger revealed he had the same game plan as Girard; to start quickly and try and avoid 'the traffic'. "He did it a little better than I did," said Krueger. "We both knew that there were some very talented and strong skaters in the back and although it's physically harder to lead up front there's just too much traffic if you stay in the back. It paid off for both of us."

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Olympic spirit

Yira revealed his disappointment at falling on the last bend but said that he was relieved to win the bronze. "After I fell, I didn't think about anything. I just did my best to make it to that finish line and I think that's the role of an athlete," said the 26-year-old.

"I just got back up and finished the race. Even at the finish line, there was a little difficulty and it wasn't like we came in all together," he added. "It was just me passing the finish line so there wasn't much emotion there. I just tried my best to show the public the best I could, and I think that I'm quite satisfied with that. I could smile in the end."

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