Canada’s Charles Hamelin turned back the years at the Dordrecht 2021 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships on Saturday, taking gold in the 1500m to cement his legendary status in the sport.
The 36-year-old considered retiring in 2018, having already done it all. He came into this competition with three Olympic gold medals and 12 World Championship golds in his collection.
But the Canadian didn’t travel to his 17th World Championships to make up the numbers. Starting a final that included Luca Spechenhauser (ITA) – an athlete 16 years his junior – Hamelin combined all his years of Short Track savvy with the raw power of a still-great athlete.
Charles Hamelin (CAN) M1500 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)
He hit the front with six laps to go, and simply couldn’t be caught. It was his third 1500m World Championship gold.
“It was a really good race for me, from the beginning of the day I was feeling really good,” said Hamelin.
“It was a big race in the final, eight people, but I was able to manage myself to be well in my energy for the last six laps where I led. I tried to keep the pace really fast for the people behind me, and it worked.
“When I won [the overall World Championship title] in Montreal in 2018, I knew I had more in me. I didn’t know how long I would continue, but I hoped for the next Olympics. To win the 1500m is the first big step to show what I can do next year.
“When you love something, you try to do the little things to keep you going faster. With the new coach, he targets the perfect exercises, to correct movements you are doing wrong. For me it was really good.
“I was hoping to race some day during Covid, and it finally came.”
(L-R) Itzhak de Laat (NED), Charles Hamelin (CAN), Semen Elistratov (RSU) 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)
“In retrospect I could have done a bit better, but I am happy with silver too,” said De Laat. “The 1500m really made my day.”
In the 500m, 22-year-old Shaoang Liu secured his first World Championship gold. Liu has been one of the leading skaters in the men’s field for a number of years, but had not yet managed to take a world gold.
He led from the front in a fast and furious race, beating Elistratov into silver and Pietro Sighel (ITA) into bronze.
Shaoang Liu (HUN) M500 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)
Sighel has proved to be the breakout skater of the year. Having never made a podium in his first two seasons of World Cup racing, he now has a World Championship bronze to add to his 2021 European Championship overall silver.
Sjinkie Knegt (NED) meanwhile endured a difficult day. Although looking back to his pre-injury best, he committed penalties in the semi-finals of both the 1500m and 500m, to miss out on the final races.
The results leave the overall competition finely poised. Hamelin and Liu have 36 points, Elistratov has 34 and De Laat has 21. All four will fancy their chances at the overall title, setting up a thrilling Sunday of racing in Dordrecht.
Where to Watch
Viewers will be able to watch the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships either via their national broadcaster / channel and for countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel.
All the information is available in the Where to Watch. For further information regarding the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, including the announcement and entry list please visit the dedicated ISU Event Page and listen to The Ice Skating Podcast.
Subscribe to the ISU Newsletter to receive the latest information from the ISU and you can also subscribe to the Skating ISU YouTube Channel to receive notifications when live streams or new videos are published.
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