Hungary kept their cool to win gold in the men’s short track speed skating 5,000m relay at PyeongChang 2018, held at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Thursday 22 February.
The Hungarian team were the fastest starters but then looked on from behind as Canada, the Republic of Korea and the People's Republic of China all swapped the lead in the first half of the race. The Republic of Korea were hampered by a fall with 20 laps to go and left themselves with too much to do.
With just two laps remaining, Hungary moved past Canada to hit the front, and they held on to take gold in a new Olympic record of 6.31.971. The Canadians and Chinese battled for second place, with China claiming it with a time of 6.32.035. Canada finished just behind with a time of 6.32.282.
Hungary make history
The men's 5,000m relay was the last short track event at PyeongChang 2018, and it got off to a cagey start with all four teams in contention. The Hungarians bided their time, skating within themselves and letting China and Canada set the pace in the 45-lap race before putting on a late surge that secured the gold medal.
Brothers Sandor Liu Shaolin and Shaoang Liu raced alongside Viktor Knoch and Csaba Burjan to claim Hungary's first gold medal at an Olympic Winter Games. They celebrated wildly at the end, high-fiving and hugging their technical staff beside the track before skating around the rink holding their country's flag.
"To win Hungary's first gold at a Winter Games is such a big honour," said Liu Shaolin. "The journey was really long to get here. The team qualified for the Winter Games in eighth position, the last position, but we made it count. We're the winner. It was really tough, but everyone came together to show this is what we can do."
Knoch admitted his delight and said that a weight had been lifted from the shoulders of the four team members.
"It's been 38 years since our last medal, a silver in figure skating. We felt a lot of pressure, if I have to be honest, from the whole country," admitted Knoch. "I think everybody felt this weight on their shoulders. It was our last chance to get a medal for our federation, our country, and it's unbelievable that it's a gold. It's really hard to understand what just happened."
China won its fourth 5,000m relay medal, and first silver, in Winter Games history. Dajing, who won gold in the men's 500m, admitted his team wanted to finish top of the podium but had done well, and that they could look ahead to Beijing 2022 with great confidence.
"We've done our best and gone beyond ourselves.," said 23-year-old Dajing. "We came in wanting gold, but as a team we believe in each other and work hard together. So, in that respect, I think we've done quite well. We're quite united. We help each other and encourage each other a lot. We're really looking forward to Beijing 2022."
In claiming bronze, Canada won a record-extending sixth medal in the men's 5,000m relay. For Charles Hamelin it was his record-equalling third Olympic medal in this event.
"The four of us here are getting the medal, but the whole of Team Canada, not just here, but back home, it's because of them that we have the medal right now," said Hamelin. "It's something that means a lot for us because in Sochi we didn't win like we wanted to. Here, even if we didn't win like we wanted, we are still on the podium. The team can be really proud of what we did. Once again, it's another medal for Canada. We are happy."
"It just shows the work we have done the last four years," added Samuel Girard, who won gold in the men's 1,000m. "We are a new team. Two of the team were in Sochi, and we had two new guys, and we just created this chemistry together."