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China sweep men’s and women’s sprint golds in short track speed skating

21 Feb 2017
Sapporo, Japan, February 21, 2017: China continued its domination of the sprint events in short track speed skating by winning the gold medals in both the men’s and women’s 500 metres finals at the 8th Asian Winter Games on Tuesday.

Wu Dajing, who was given the honour of carrying China’s flag at Sunday’s official Opening Ceremony, won the men’s race in dominant fashion while China’s emerging teenage sensation Zang Yize took out an action-packed women’s final at the iconic Makomanai indoor stadium, which was the venue for ice hockey, figure skating and the Closing Ceremony when Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972.

China had won gold in the men’s 500m race at five of the last seven Asian Winter Games and Wu was the overwhelming favourite to make it six from eight. The 22-year-old won the silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and also won back-to-back world championships in 2014 and 2015. He finished runner-up in Monday’s 1500m final but was uncatchable over the shortest distance on the programme.

After cruising through the preliminary rounds, he jumped straight into the lead and controlled the race to the end, raising his arms in triumph as he crossed the line first. South Korea’s Seo Yira made a desperate attempt to catch Wu on the line but in so doing he clipped his skate and was sent sprawling to the ice, sliding into the protective barriers.

Seo held on to take the silver, just ahead of his team mate Park Se-young, who beat Wu for the gold in the 1500m. Each of the four finalists all bettered the Asian record. There was more drama in the women’s final as Zang pulled off a clever last lap manoeuvre to win gold and two of the four finalists were given penalties.

It was the seventh time in a row China has won the women’s 500m gold at the Asian Winter Games. Zang emerged as one of the new torchbearers of China’s short track speed skating team when she won gold at last year’s Youth Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway but was no sure thing against a talented field in Sapporo.

She took a cautious approach to the final, dropping to the rear to stay out of trouble as her team mate Fan Kexin, a triple world champion in the spectacular high-speed event, dictated the pace from the front. Zang was still second last approaching the final bend in a tightly packed bunch when Fan and Korea’s Shim Suk-hee made brief contact.

Zang seized her chance to switch back to the inside and get to the finish line first, just ahead of Japan’s Ayuko Ito. Fan and Shim were both penalised so Choi Min-jeong was elevated to third after winning the B final.
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