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Winter Olympics stars honored as top amateur athletes

2014/03/12 11:40

SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- Speed skater Lee Sang-hwa and figure skater Kim Yu-na were named South Korea's top amateur athletes at an annual award ceremony on Wednesday.

They shared the highest individual honors at the corporate-sponsored event, which has been recognizing the country's amateur athletes since 1995.

Lee and Kim were honored for their accomplishments at the Sochi Winter Olympics held last month in Russia.

Lee won her second straight gold medal in the women's 500 meters, setting two Olympic records in the process. She is only the third female consecutive Olympic champ in that distance, after Bonnie Blair of the United States and Catriona Le May Doan of Canada.

Lee also owns the world record in the event with 36.36 seconds.

Kim claimed the silver medal in the ladies' singles event in Sochi, behind Adelina Sotnikova of Russia. It was a controversial finish that prompted many experts and fans alike to raise suspicions about rigged judging, for Kim, the 2010 gold medalist, performed a near-flawless free skate and yet ended more than five points behind Sotnikova, who committed a landing miscue during her routine.

Kim, however, has refused to get dragged into the storm, saying she has long put the result behind her and she won't dwell on the past.

Kim also retired from competition after Sochi, having never missed the podium in a decorated senior career that began in 2006.

Aside from her two Olympic medals, Kim has won two world titles. She holds the world records in each of the short program (78.50), the free skate (150.06) and total score (228.56), all set in her gold medal-winning performance in Vancouver.

Other athletes from Sochi were honored on Wednesday. Park Seung-hi, a double gold medalist in the women's short track, was the runner-up to Lee and Kim in the individual athlete category.

Short tracker Shim Suk-hee, who won three medals in her Olympic debut in Sochi, and freestyle skier Choi Jae-woo, who finished 12th in the men's moguls for South Korea's best Olympic skiing performance, were named the best rookies.

The women's short track team, which won the 3,000m relay gold medal in Sochi, and the trio of speed skaters who won the silver in the men's team pursuit event shared the teams of the year award.

Finally, Lee Kyou-hyuk, a veteran speed skater who competed in his sixth Olympics in Sochi before announcing his retirement, received the lifetime achievement award. Lee was the flag bearer for South Korea at the opening ceremony in Sochi.