Men 5000m Relay podium ©Getty Images
The PyeongChang 2018 Short Track competitions ended with Hungary writing history in the men’s 5000m Relay event at Gangneung Ice Arena on Thursday night. Viktor Knoch, Csaba Burjan and brothers Shaoang and Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) won their country’s first ever gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games. China took silver and Canada seized the bronze medal.
Hungary, which has won 175 gold medals at the Summer Games, became the 40th NOC to win a gold medal at the Winter Games. The nation previously won two silver and four bronze medals, all in Figure Skating and most recently in 1980. Knoch was proud to finally add an Olympic Winter Games gold to his countries list of honor: "It's been 38 years since our last medal. It was a silver in Figure Skating. It was a lot of pressure, if I have to be honest, from the whole country. I think everybody felt this weight on their shoulders and it was really hard to perform like this at the Olympics.
Team Hungary ©Getty Images
Sorry for teammates
The final had been breathtaking. China fought for the lead with Korea, while the crowd loudly cheered any time the home favorites made a good move. About halfway through the race the crowd went silent. Hyojun Lim fell just before a change-over, which left the home favorites too far behind to be able to fight for a medal. “I thought we were doing well but then I made a mistake in the final,” Lim said. “That led to no medal. I’m so sorry to my teammates. I’m just really, really sorry. That’s the biggest feeling I have now."
Going mad man
Up front, the race went on. Canada and China exchanged the lead a couple of times, and with two laps to go Hungary took control. “When I got the last two laps from my brother Shaoang I said, 'No one is going to pass me here. I'm going mad man',” said Shaolin Sandor Lui: “I was like, I don't know, I was just screaming. I couldn't say anything. I couldn't think anything. I was just screaming and I was trying to find my team. I couldn't find anyone. I was just screaming and screaming so anything could come out just screaming.
"It's such a big honor. The journey was really long to get here. The team got qualified for the Olympics in eighth position, the last position, and we made it count. We're the winner. It was really hard. It was really tough and mentally and physically everyone pull together and everyone made what they can and this is what we can do."
Samuel Girard (CAN) / Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) / Tianyu Han (CHN) ©AFP
Looking at Beijing 2022
China’s Dajing Wu was not too happy about getting silver, but he looks forward to the next Olympics in Beijing 2022: “We had some issues with stamina and mistakes that led to this result. We came in wanting the gold. As a team, we’re quite united. We desired a better result, a breakthrough and we help each other and encourage each other a lot. We’re really looking forward to Beijing 2022."
Milestone farewell for Hamelin
Canada’s Charles Hamelin said farewell to Short Track with a record-equaling third Olympic medal in this event. He matched the totals of countrymen Eric Bedard and Francois-Louis Tremblay. It was Hamelin's fifth Olympic medal across Short Track events, matching the totals of Tremblay and Marc Gagnon among Canadian athletes. “It’s something really special,” he said. “The team changed a lot after the last two years after Sochi. Just to be able to compete here, the race was kind of crazy. All teams raced really well and I’m really proud to be on the podium, to share the podium with them. As a team, we’re really proud of what we did."
Men 5000m Relay Final A ©AFP