FIRST GOLD FOR CHOI
South Korea’s Choi Min-jeong, the world-record holder in women’s 1500m short-track, won her first Olympic gold medal on Saturday after surging to the front of the competition in the 12th lap of the race and never relinquishing the lead. Choi’s winning time of 2:24.948 was just ahead of China’s Li Jinyu, who finished with a 2:25.703 and Canada’s Kim Boutin at 2:25.834. In addition to a crowd of home fans, Choi’s accomplishment was performed in front of South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who was in attendance at the Gangneung Ice Arena. The pace wasn’t as quick as Choi’s world record time of 2:14.354, which she set in November 2016, but she was happy to focus on the positives.
“It was the biggest dream of mine for four years, I can’t put it into words,” Choi said after the race. “I am so proud of it. Physically I am so burned out but inside I am so happy, so proud of my whole country.”
AVENGING A DISAPPOINTING 500M
The 19-year-old’s first Olympics got off to a rocky start during Tuesday’s 500m final, when she was disqualified for interference after what would have been a silver medal winning performance. The reason she was given for the DQ was that she had made contact with the knee of Canada’s Boutin with two laps remaining, which counts as impeding and is illegal. Choi gracefully accepted the judges’ decision, although many of her fans did not.
Boutin, who now has won bronze in both the 500m and 1500m races, received threats on her social media accounts after Tuesday’s 500m race, with one Instagram commenter saying “If I find you, you will die,” followed by knife emojis. Boutin made her media accounts private as a result. The Canadian Olympic Committee took the comments seriously enough that they investigated the matter, although it didn’t seem to have a negative impact on her Saturday performance.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR CHOI?
She’ll get a break to recover and head back to the track for one final event, the women’s 3000m relay on Tuesday, which should be a raucous atmosphere and one in which the South Korean squad is heavily favoured.