Category Archives: Short Track Speedskating
This is a strange one for me. I had never been to see the sport live and was astounded at the speed and intensity that doesn’t quite come across on the TV. Of course the Brits and Australians have a love affair with the sport, for vastly different reasons. Great Britain’s Wilf O’Reilly won the sport’s first ever Olympic medal, although it was only a demonstration sport in 1988. And in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the events of the 1000m final changed Australian vernacular forever, and created the synonym for being one of the luckiest blokes on the planet.
Steven Bradbury was in the top 10 in the world for the best part of a decade, but wasn’t quite in the running for a medal in the Olympics. Short track speedskating is a cutthroat affair. In rough terms, you lose, you’re out. You have to keep getting in the top 2 of your races to progress into the quarters, semis, final etc.
Bradbury was left behind in his semi final and was a good 10 metres behind coming into the final bend of the tight 125m track, when the 2nd place skater slid under the 3rd place, slipped and took both of them out of the race allowing Bradbury to nip though and earn a walk-up spot in the final. In the final itself, coming into the last lap Bradbury was again behind, even further this time, when the unthinkable happened.
This was Australia’s first ever gold medal in the Winter Olympics. Bradbury has gone down in Australian sporting history, but people are shortsighted to not see the years and years of hard work he had to put in to put himself in that position. Sure he got lucky, but the gold medal he won he saw as just reward for those sacrificial years of training and hard work.
Anyway, Melbourne seems a strange place to hold a world championship for a winter sport, especially at the tail end of summer! I got there early to see the skaters warm up. I was a little concerned to see a rather portly Singapore skater kind of canter round in the warm up despite all the others going hell for leather, but in my mind I had given him some benefit of any doubt as it was after all only warm-up, and that one of the skaters from Chinese Taipei crashed into the boards, TWICE (remember, in warm-up!)
Any benefit of any doubt was quickly extinguished in the second race when my new found hero from Singapore was lapped in a 8 lap race which took a little under a 90 seconds. I hope he paid his own way to the Championships as any investment from the Singapore government is surely misguided! I am no skater, but I make no apologies for saying that any decent sportsperson with a week’s training would have beaten this bloke. Their women’s team, which was double the size of the male contingent in number, not girth, were no better either. In fact on a pro-rata basis they were even slower.
When it came to the kamakazi from Chinese Taipei, he was more competitive but not quite in the top echelon. At least he didn’t pummel himself into the boards during the races! At least one of the Chinese Taipei team was up there with the best and made the final.
The leading Australians were the unforgettably named Armstrong Lazenby and Pierre Boda. Boda made it to semi-final on the back of good home support, but ultimately was outgunned by the Asian powerhouses of China and Korea. Korea had a clean sweep of all 4 events on the day. Both the men’s and women’s individual 1000m and the 3000m relays. The relays are a strange beast to watch. 4 person teams rotate around the rink in a sea of skaters. When it comes to the changeovers, the new skater squats whilst on the move and the current skater literally gives them a shove from behind to get them up to speed. Its quite difficult to follow as there is a plethora of bodies on the ice all at once and the action is quite fast and furious and the laps come thick and fast.
This was a World Championship, all be it a junior one, but at the medal ceremony it was completely underwhelming to see what they actually were awarded with. Quite possibly the worst medals of all time.
Years ago, I met a Welsh girl that won an aerobics competition in Russia and the winners were given spare parts to Lada cars as their trophies. Needless to say, her trophy didn’t make it back to the Homeland. At least those were of some use I guess. The locals that day were obviously expecting a home win!!!
JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – MENS 1000m
GOLD – SE YEONG PARK (KOREA)
SILVER – DEQUAN CHEN (CHINA)
BRONZE – HYO BEEN LEE (KOREA
JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – WOMENS 500m
GOLD – SUK HEE SHIM (KOREA)
SILVER – AGNE SEREIKAITE (LITHUANIA)
BRONZE – XUE WANG (CHINA)
JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – MENS 3000m RELAY
GOLD – KOREA
SILVER – CHINA
BRONZE – USA
JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – WOMENS 3000m RELAY
GOLD – KOREA
SILVER – CHINA
BRONZE – RUSSIA
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