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Speed skater Lee Sang-hwa receives top nat'l sports award after record-breaking season

2014/02/28 14:28

SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Yonhap) -- Speed skater Lee Sang-hwa on Friday received the top national sports award on the strength of her monumental, record-breaking season, recently capped off with her second straight Olympic gold medal.

The 25-year-old was the recipient of the grand prize at the 60th annual Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) Awards. Earlier this month at the Sochi Winter Olympics, Lee successfully defended her gold medal in the women's 500 meters.

In January last year, Lee set her first world record in the sprint event, improving the previous mark by 0.14 second to 36.80 seconds.

Ten months later, Lee broke her own world record three times, including on back-to-back days on Nov. 15 and Nov. 16 in Salt Lake City during the World Cup season. The record now stands at 36.36 seconds.

In March last year, Lee won the world single distance speed skating championship in the 500m, and was unbeaten in seven World Cup races she entered between November and December.

Then in February this year, she put the icing on the cake with her second Olympic gold. She also set two Olympic records in the process, finishing the second of her two races in the single-race record of 37.28 seconds and putting up the fastest combined time of 74.70 seconds. Catriona Le May Doan of Canada had held both Olympic records before.

Lee joined Le May Doan and Bonnie Blair of the United States as the only women to win consecutive Olympic titles in the 500m.

Lee's was one of three gold medals for South Korea in Sochi, where the country finished in 13th place in the medal standings.