China’s penalty-plagued short-track speed skating team finally turned the table in the high-drama competition in Pyeongchang when Wu Dajing won the men’s 500-meter event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Thursday.
Amid an intense atmosphere at the packed Gang-neung Ice Arena, Wu pushed off strong in the final, gaining an edge in the first corner. He expanded that to a clear lead midway through the race before finishing with a world-record time of 39.584 seconds, claiming China’s first gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games in the Republic of Korea.
Wu’s victory triggered a standing ovation from hundreds of Chinese spectators at the arena who flew red flags while clapping hard to celebrate the hard-fought win.
Riding on the momentum, Wu and his teammates added another silver medal in the men’s 5,000m team relay, bringing the Chinese delegation its ninth overall medal in Pyeongchang.
I carried a lot of pressure into the final today after what we went through previously. I am just so proud of myself to have been able to hold on and bring out my best in the race, said Wu, who won the silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia.
Entering the Games as the country’s biggest golden hope, the Chinese short-track team suffered a series of setbacks in previous events, including the women’s 500m, 3,000m relay and men’s 1,500m, in which athletes were either disqualified before the final or beaten by opponents.
In the highly charged women’s 3,000m relay final on Tuesday, Team China finished second after South Korea, but was later stripped of the silver medal after being penalized for a "cross track" violation in unclear body contacts with the host team before the finish line.
Chinese team head coach Li Yan appealed the ruling to the International Skating Union right after the final but the appeal was declined on Wednesday, citing as the reason that the appeal was filed past the limit of 30 minutes after a race.