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(LEAD) (Olympics) Former short track gold medalist comes to Olympic finale in speed skating

송고시간2018/02/14 21:29

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(ATTN: UPDATES with Park's comments in last 2 paras)

By Kim Boram

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korean skater Park Seung-hi has achieved enough in the Olympics. She earned a total of five medals in short track speed skating in the previous two Winter Games. Out of the five, two are gold medals from 1,000 meter and 3,000m relay events at Sochi 2014.

After the successful 2014 Olympics, she considered retiring from competition, and everybody thought it was no wonder.

This file photo shows South Korea's Park Seung-hi (R) skates at women's 1,000m short track at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. (Yonhap) This file photo shows South Korea's Park Seung-hi (R) skates at women's 1,000m short track at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

But Park returned to the ice again in a different way.

She switched to long track speed skating and tried to make the final challenge at her third Olympics, in PyeongChang.

Once a queen in the short track, her skating was also effective on the long track ice.

She earned a berth on the national speed skating team for the 2014-2015 season and finished 14th in women's 1,000m with a time of 1:17:23 in the 2015 World Single Distances Championships.

Finally, she grabbed a ticket for the PyeongChang Olympics to become the first South Korea skater, male or female, to compete in two different sports at the Olympics.

Her teammate Lee Seung-hoon, also a short track-turned-speed skating star, had never raced in the Olympics as a short track skater before winning gold in the men's 10,000m speed skating event at 2010 Vancouver.

In her last race in the Gangneung Ice Arena on Wednesday, Park finished 16th with a time of 1:16.11, falling far short of her personal best of 1.14.64 and winner Jorien ter Mors' 1:13.56.

But the numbers were not important. The 25-year old skater had her swan song at the Olympics on home soil.

"If I were still in short track, I would have delivered more satisfactory results. But fans gave me so much support even though I'm far from the podium in speed skating," she said after the race, adding that she was more nervous than she had expected.

"This is my last Olympics. No change. I already postponed my retirement for four years. I'm very proud of myself and I've done everything I want," said the skater.

South Korea's Park Seung-hi skates at the women's 1,000m speed skating event of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the Gangneung Oval on Feb. 14, 2018. (Yonhap) South Korea's Park Seung-hi skates at the women's 1,000m speed skating event of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the Gangneung Oval on Feb. 14, 2018. (Yonhap)

brk@yna.co.kr

(END)