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Lee Seung-hoon ranks 12th in 5,000-meter speed skating race

Lee Seung-hoon ranks 12th in 5,000-meter speed skating race

Posted February. 10, 2014 04:10,   


“The more I know, the more difficult to race, it seems.”

Prior to leaving for a training camp run in France last month, Lee Seung-hoon, Korea’s flagship long-distance speed skater, said, “It was better to skate when I did not know much about speed skating.” Lee, 26, unexpectedly acquired the silver medal in men’s 5,000-meter speed skating competition, and the gold at 10,000 meter race at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, just in seven months after converting from a short-track skater into speed skater. Unlike that time when he had nothing to be afraid of, he felt this year’s event rather more challenging. Such worries have become a reality.

In men’s 5,000-meter speed skating competition held at Adler Arena in Sochi on Saturday, Lee ranked 12th with a time of 6 minutes and 25.61 seconds. The gold medal went to Sven Kramer of the Netherland, who set the Olympic record with a time of 6:10:76. Lee was lagging 14.85 seconds behind Kramer, and more than 18 seconds behind his own record of 6:07:04.

Up until right before the competition, Lee was expected to win a medal, even if not the gold. Racing at Group 13, the last group, Lee had stable skating performance in the early part of the race, but failed to display last-minute spurt, his flagship skill, after halfway of the competition to show poor performance. Disappointed, Lee just said “I am sorry” as he left the arena.

Experts say that Lee performed poorly because he failed to overcome mental burden. Jegal Seong-yeol, former coach of the national speed skating team, said, “Lee Seung-hoon, who checked the record of Kramer who raced earlier, felt mental pressure. As he got nervous, he failed to display racing skills that he had been exercising hard.”

Although Lee failed to win the first medal for the Korean team unlike in the Vancouver event, Koreans sent him messages of cheer and applause nonetheless, rather than criticism. Since he still has the 10,000 meter race and team pursuit competitions, he has ample chance to win a medal.

Lee’s bid to win the first medal, which has ended in failure, has been handed over Mo Tae-bum, 25, who will race at men’s 500 meter speed skating competition on Monday. After the exercise session on Sunday, Coach Kevin Crocket of the national team, said, “All preparation has been made perfectly. Without doubt, Mo Tae-bum is the fastest short distance skater in the world,” expressing his full confidence in Mo’s chance to win the gold.