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Olympics – Speed skating – Gao wins China its first men’s speed skating gold

Randy Mancini 4 Feb 12
Speed Skating - Men's 500m
2022 Beijing Olympics - Speed Skating - Men's 500m - National Speed Skating Oval, Beijing, China - February 12, 2022. Gao Tingyu of China celebrates winning gold and setting a new Olympic record with an award depicting Bing Dwen Dwen, the mascot of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics during the flower ceremony. REUTERS/Phil Noble

February 12, 2022

BEIJING (Reuters) – Gao Tingyu won China its first men’s speed skating gold on Saturday, smashing the Olympic record to cross the finish line in 34.32 seconds as spectators cheered him on in the men’s 500 metres at the Beijing Olympics.

He set the pace early as the seventh pairing out of 15, finishing the single lap around the 400m oval in a time that his rivals failed to beat.

Cha Min Kyu of South Korea claimed silver in 34.39 seconds and Wataru Morishige of Japan took bronze in 34.49.

Favourite Laurent Dubreuil of Canada missed out on a podium place, finishing fourth and two-tenths of a second behind Gao with a time of 34.52 seconds.

Anticipation in the oval grew as Dubreuil stood on the starting line with Japan’s Tatsuya Shinhama in the last pairing. Almost as if to break that pressure, they began with a false start, before shaking off the tension and getting under way.

Their times could not match that of Gao, however, and the crowd roared when they saw that China had added a gold to its medal tally.

After the last pair finished, Gao did a victory lap around the oval with the Chinese flag draped around his shoulders, savouring the moment as he looked up at the spectators. At one point he let out a roar and broke into a wide smile.

Gao became the first Chinese man to win an Olympic medal in speed skating four years ago when he won bronze in the same event.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Hugh Lawson)