Delayed result ends 18-year wait

09:01, February 26, 2010      

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China's gold medalists celebrate as members of South Korea's team Cho Ha-ri and Lee Eun-byul react to their disqualification after the women's 3,000m relay short track speed skating final at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics yesterday, Beijing time.(Agencies)

VANCOUVER, Canada: The celebrations came late for China's 3,000m relay speed skating team, but the wait was well worth it on Wednesday night at the Vancouver Games.

It took several minutes after the final for China to be declared the victors as first-across-the-line and archrivals South Korea were disqualified for impeding a Chinese skater.

The victory ended an agonizing 18-year wait for short-track relay glory.

The event was first introduced to the Olympics in 1992. Canada won that year but South Koreans have dominated after that, winning the next four straight 3,000m crowns.

China's captain, Wang Meng, said her team's biggest aim in Vancouver was to beat the South Koreans and that the greatest prize of all was the relay gold.

That dream looked over when South Korea crossed the line first by a comfortable margin in the final. However, after a tense few minutes during which the South Koreans celebrated, the referees ruled Kim Min-Jung impeded Sun Linlin's path after a handover with six laps to go and disqualified the defending champions.

Canada took the silver and the bronze went to the US.

Led by Olympic champions Wang and Zhou Yang, China clocked 4 minutes, 06.61 seconds, breaking their own world record of 4:07.179, which was set in Salt Lake City in October 2002.

Although South Korea's coach, Choi Kwang-bok, banged his fists in anger, glared at the officials and argued with Australian referee James Hewish, his protests were in vain.

China's deputy team manager, Wang Chunlu, was a delighted man after the final and attributed the team's success to head coach Li Yan.

"Coach Li brought us many new concepts when she came back from the US four years ago," said Wang.

"She paid great attention to the team's skating techniques and also to special stamina training."

The relay win was China's third short-track triumph at these Games, following Wang's gold in the 500m and Zhou's 1,500m victory, but the team's modest coach refused to say China had surpassed South Korea in the sport.

"We can't say that the Chinese women's team now has an advantage in the sport," Li told China Daily.

"We strove very hard for the gold medal and all of our team members endured tough training to get it."

There are still three short-track events left - the men's 500m, women's 1,000m and men's 5,000m relay. Wang and Zhou will lead the charge in the 1,000m while the men will get their last chance for a medal in the relay.

Source: China Daily
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