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Lee Seung-hoon Talks About Historic Gold Medal

Posted February. 25, 2010 07:48,   


Speed skater Lee Seung-hoon looked a bit perplexed, repeatedly saying he had no idea how he set an Olympic record and how Dutch competitor Sven Kramer was disqualified.

Lee, 22, won the gold in the men’s 10,000-meter speedskating race at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, his second medal after winning the silver in the 5,000-meter race.

World record holder Kramer, the favorite to win the gold, was disqualified for a lane violation on the 17th lap. The Dutchman passed the finish line 4.05 seconds ahead of Lee, and thought he won the gold.

Lee said he knew he won the race even before Kramer passed the finish line. “I had no idea but my coach told me in the middle of Kramer’s race that the Dutch skater might have made a mistake,” he said.

Long-distance speedskating has long been the domain of Europeans. Lee became the first Asian to win a gold medal in the event in addition to being Asia’s first to win a medal in the sport.

“European athletes are bigger in size but waste a lot of energy due to their weight,” Lee said. “I’m shorter but can compete with them because I’m lighter. My small physique doesn’t matter.”

He said he focused on increasing endurance because he had to stay far lower than his European rivals to catch up despite the toll it took on his physical strength.

“I practiced insanely to enhance my physical strength,” he said. Other Korean skaters such as Mo Tae-bum and Lee Sang-hwa, both of whom won the gold, also spurred him on to do better.

After his races were over, Lee said he wants to do something simple after the Olympics.

“I just want to walk on Seoul streets. It could be fun to be besieged by people who want my autograph,” he said.