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Ohno Gracious After Ahn Skates to Gold

Posted February. 20, 2006 03:01,   


The Olympic men’s 1,000m short-track final yesterday was identical to the men’s 1,500m final on February 13. Korea’s Ahn Hyun-soo and Lee Ho-suk finished one-two once again. The only difference was the presence of American skater Apollo Anton Ohno, who had dropped out early in the 1,500m event.

Ohno lost.

“Saturday night`s competition at the Palavela proved that if you put the world`s best short-track skaters on the ice and they all stay on their skates, the South Koreans will win. It`s that simple,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Ahn proved himself to be the world’s best short-track skater and closed the book on the disputed past,” the New York Times reported.

Before the race, some U.S. media outlets reported that Ohno, accused of stealing Kim Dong-sung’s gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, would finally have the chance to prove he was the real champion.

In the aftermath of Ohno’s defeat, American reporters asked Ahn whether he enjoyed beating Ohno better than winning the 1,500m gold, and what his victory meant to South Korea. Questions on the Kim Dong-sung incident in 2002 were also asked.

Ohno, who likes to introduce himself as a champion, showed modesty at yesterday’s press conference. When asked why he threw his hands in the air after crossing the finish line in a way similar to what observers called an “overreaction” that may have caused Kim’s disqualification four years ago, Ohno said, "That was my way of saying, ‘Wow, I couldn`t believe how fast it was.’ It was more throwing my arms up, like, man, there was no room to move."

Regarding the race’s outcome, Ohno said that his goal was to reach the finals and that he was happy to complete his collection of medals in gold, silver and bronze. Ohno also praised Ahn’s three world short-track skating championships.

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com