YOG athlete Hyojun wins the first medal for the host nation
Lim Hyojun won gold in the mens 1,500m short track speed skating on Saturday 10 February, giving Olympic hosts, the Republic of Korea, their first medal of Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018, much to the delight of a vociferous crowd at the Gangneung Ice Arena.
Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands, the world record holder at the distance, took silver, while Olympic Athlete from Russia Semen Elistratov won the bronze. Missing out on the medals this time was defending Olympic champion Charles Hamelin of Canada, who was handed a penalty for impeding in the final.
Victorious in the fourth heat of the day, Hyojun then won his semi-final to claim a place in the nine-man final, which also featured compatriot Hwang Daeheon, an unfortunate faller in the race for the medals.
Leading the field as the final lap began, Hyojun held off Knegt to take the line first and trigger joyous celebrations among the home fans.
“I’m stunned and it’s unbelievable, but it’s not finished yet,” said the Republic of Korea’s first gold medallist of PyeongChang 2018. “I will also be trying my best for the relay on the 22nd.”
“I was very overwhelmed because it’s my home country,” he added. “I wanted to show the very best attitude and try as hard as I could, but the coach said, ‘Don’t get too stressed. Just relax’. I did what he said and I think that led to better results.”
A 1,000m winner and 500m runner-up at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Innsbruck 2012, Hyojun also had words of praise for his family, who were in the stands to cheer him on: “I would like to send a message to my parents and tell them that I really love them. I want to thank them for all their support and belief.”