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Olympic speed skating champ Mo Tae-bum 'relaxed' ahead of title defense

2013/12/18 14:00

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Dec. 18 (Yonhap) -- The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics may be just around the corner, but South Korean speed skater Mo Tae-bum, the reigning gold medalist in the men's 500 meters, said Wednesday he is undaunted by the magnitude of the competition.

Speaking at a corporate appearance, Mo said he is trying not to look too far ahead to the Winter Games in the Russian resort town next February.

"It'd be great to win a medal, but ever since the start of this season, I've been pretty relaxed," Mo said. "Rather than thinking about making the podium, I am trying to enjoy myself during the run-up to the Olympics."

   At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Mo was the surprise champion of the men's 500m, becoming the first South Korean man to win an Olympic speed skating gold. He also won a silver medal in the 1,000m.

Speed skater Mo Tae-bum speaks to the press during a corporate appearance in Seoul on Dec. 18, 2013. (Yonhap)

The 24-year-old has since gone through a roller coaster ride, but appears to be peaking in time for Sochi. At the most recent International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup race earlier this month in Berlin, Mo swept up both the 500m and 1,000m titles. It marked the first time this season that Mo won those two races at a single World Cup event.

With two World Cup events left this season, Mo leads the points race in the 500m with 527 points, with Ronald Mulder of the Netherlands trailing him with 458 points. Skaters are awarded 100 points for each victory and 80 points for a runner-up finish, and so forth.

Aside from his gold from Berlin, Mo has won four silver and one bronze medals in the 500m so far in the World Cup series.

He said he is still feeling "up and down" physically.

"I'd say I am at about 80 percent physically," he said. "I will try to keep some positive momentum into the Olympics and hopefully that will lead to some good results."

   In the Winter Games history, only three male speed skaters have successful defended their 500m gold medals: Yevgeny Grishin of the old Soviet Union in 1956 and 1960; Erhard Keller of West Germany in 1968 and 1972; and Uwe-Jens Mey, first of East Germany and later unified Germany in 1988 and 1992.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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