Korean skater Sang-Hwa Lee won the Olympic 500m Speed Skating event for the ladies. Lee defeated world record holder Jenny Wolf (GER), who took the silver, and Beixing Wang (CHN) who took the Olympic bronze medal.
It was the first time in Olympic history that both the men’s and the ladies Olympic 500m Speed Skating events were won by the same ISU Member (on Monday Tae-Bum Mo from Korea won the Men’s 500m Olympic Gold).
Sophie Muir from Australia was today the first woman from her country to compete in Speed Skating at the Olympic Winter Games. She had an inline career and moved a year and a half ago to ice.
The 500m distance is raced twice with the sum of the two times making up the result. In the first race the favourites skated in the final four pairs. Beixing Wang skated 38.48, which left a chance for Annette Gerritsen (NED). Gerritsen opened in 10.44, faster than everybody before her, but when coming out of the first corner; she lost her balance and fell. “Such a disappointment”, she said. “Looking at the times of the others, I could have been up there.” Then Jenny Wolf and Sang-Hwa Lee were paired together. 10.26 was not a fantastic opening for Wolf, and Lee could stay close behind and overtook her in the lap. Lee won the first 500m in 38.24, with 38.30 Wolf knew it wasn’t yet hopeless and she was determined to show a better second race. Margot Boer (NED) finished in 38.51, not far behind the podium.
In the second race, Ko (PRK) took the lead with a combined time of 77.47. This brought her up from 15th position to 9th position overall. Heather Richardson (USA) took over the lead with four pairs to go, in the end she finished on a career-best 6th with 77.17. Russia’s top skater, Julia Nemaya, fell in a similar way Gerritsen had done in the first race, after being ranked seventh in the first race. With 76.99 Sayuri Yoshii took fifth and was the best skater from Japan after this season’s revelation Nao Kodaira was too overwhelmed by the occasion to skate as fast as she intended. Then Beixing Wang and Margot Boer battled for the podium. Wang skated much better than in her first race and finished in 38.14, faster even than the winning time in the first race. Boer finished fourth, Wang was certain of a medal and still cherished some hope for more than bronze. However, Wolf and Lee were a great final pair. Wolf had a flashing start with 10.14; Lee’s 10.29 was also faster than in her first race. Both skaters finished below 38 seconds. Wolf won the race with 37.83, 0.02 faster than Lee, but that was not enough. Lee won with 76.09, Wolf had 76.14 in total, Wang had 76.63. All three medalists have been world sprint champion in the past years.
Lee: "Wolf and Wang were always better than me, so it is hard for me to believe I got the gold today", and she thanked the male sprinters for helping her with her training. Wolf said she had become nervous after a first false start in the first race and that it was still worth a lot to win silver, but she was a bit disappointed. Wang worded it: “I kind of regret I didn’t get a gold but I’m also very happy about my first Olympic medal.”