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Kim Jiyoo of Korea looked to her right and cracked a wry smile as the medals were being presented in the women’s 1000m short track speed skating at Gjovik Olympic Cavern Hall.
Seven years after Kim met teammate Lee Suyoun and they began training together, the pair were atop the podium as the gold and silver medalist respectively at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
“I’m very happy to win gold and silver with my teammate and friend,’’ said a beaming Lee. “We have a special style of training and our coaches give us many tips.”
Hwang Daeheon earlier won gold in men’s 1000m, completing Korea’s domination in short track.
In both finals, the Koreans held back until the second-to-last lap and then made decisive moves to sneak past their opponents for the race to the finish line.
“I caught the forerunner and then I was the first runner and then it was a one-on-one match (with Lee),’’ said Kim. “I knew that if I didn’t make any mistakes, I would win.”
“I had a moment where I made a turn and passed the forerunners, I knew I could get silver,” added Lee.
Kim was timed in 1 minute, 24.41 seconds, while Lee was a blink-of-an-eye behind at 1:24.48.
Germany’s Anna Seidel won bronze in 1:24.76.
Korea's Kim Jiyoo (centre) with her gold medal, flanked by compatriot Lee Suyoun (left, silver) and Germany's Anna Seidel (right, bronze) after the ladies' short track speed skating 1000m final. Photo: YIS / IOC Al Tielemans
“The Koreans were so fast, but my goal was to stay in the third position and it worked,’’ said Seidel. “The Koreans are always very strong, especially on the curves. They just do it all very well. I led a lot and then the Koreans passed and I told myself, ‘Just follow them, follow them, follow them, and you will medal.’”
In the men’s final, Hwang pumped his fists in celebration as he crossed the finish line in 1:18.73.
Silver medalist MA Wei of China, who was timed in 1:18.85, was clearly frustrated at being overtaken by his Korean opponent and shook his head from side to side as he gasped for breath when the race ended.
“It feels like a dream. I’m happier to get a gold medal at this competition than any other,’’ said Hwang. “I was quite fast, I was also very patient. That’s why it went well.”
“I can’t believe this is happening. It’s really like a dream, my hard work paid off.”
Liu Shaoang of Hungary was hardly disappointed at his bronze after being timed in 1:18.94.
“I didn’t try to pass because my blades were choppy and the ice was breaking. He (Hwang) made it to the lead faster. I knew I could not pass,’’ said Liu.
The crowd of about 600 people were supportive of the YOG athletes competing at the arena, which is located inside a mountain in the picturesque lakeside town of Gjovik.
Written by YIS / IOC ALAN ADAMS, with Kim Joo-Hyun and IOC Young Reporter Emily Bayci
Alan Adams is a reporter for the Lillehammer Youth Information Service ‘YIS’. Based in Toronto, Canada, he has covered sports since the mid-1980s including covering five Winter Olympic Games.