No Surprises: Lee Sang-hwa Defends 500m Speed Skating Gold, Sets Two ORs


24-year-old South Korean, Lee Sang-hwa came into the women’s 500m speed skating race as the heavy favorite to win gold. The youngster has won every event she has competed in this season on the World Cup circuit. She took to the ice in Alder Arena the heavy favorite and she didn’t disappoint. The odds were heavily in the South Korean’s favor to defend her 2010 gold medal in this event and it was no surprise that she took the top spot again in Sochi.

Not only did Lee dominate in the medal event, she set two new Olympic records in the process. During her first heat, her time of 37.28 seconds edged out Catriona Le May Doan’s previous record from the 2002 Salt Lake City Games by a .02 second margin. Combine that with her second heat run, equaling a staggeringly low total of 74.70 seconds and she had her second Olympic record of the day.

With Lee a clear lock for first place, the battle for silver and bronze became the new highly contested race. The edge went to Russia’s Olga Fatkulina who finished with a 75.06 second total. The Netherlands’ Margot Boer finished just behind Fatkulina with a time of 75:48 to earn her country its eight speed skating medal of the 2014 Games.

There was no denying Lee’s dominance. The silver medalist even compared her to one of the greatest Summer Olympians of all time:

“Right now,” said Fatkulina, “she is almost Usain Bolt.”

Ever humble and not a fan of the stardom Olympic glory brings, Lee had the following to say after her dominant performance:

“I don’t like to be considered a phenomenon in my country. I am not a star. I dislike hearing it again and again.”


John Ohail


February 12, 2014

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