Samuel Girard wins gold in short-track speedskating
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, February 17, 2018 7:34AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, February 17, 2018 11:45AM EST
GANGNEUNG, Korea, Republic Of -- Veteran Canadian short-track speedskater Charles Hamelin's pain was his teammate's gain on Saturday at the Winter Games.
Samuel Girard went on to win gold in the men's 1,000 after advancing to the final when Hamelin was assessed a penalty.
"It's an emotion that you can't really describe," Girard said. "When you cross the finish line, it took four years of work and three races to get there. In speedskating, a lot can happen in a short amount of time. I'm simply happy to achieve this feat, to experience it with the crowd and my parents who are here."
The 21-year-old finished in one minute 24.650 seconds in his Olympic debut. John-Henry Krueger of the U.S., took silver while Seo Yira of South Korea collected bronze.
The new Canadian sensation maintained a pace ahead of the group throughout the race. He and Krueger were able to avoid a crash that was started by Hungary's Shaolin Sandor Liu which took Yira and Lim Hyojin down.
Girard lifted his arms and pointed to the sky as he crossed the finish line.
"I just heard a big boom in the mats," he said. "After that I was just thinking about my race and what I had to do. I was looking if someone was around to pass me on the line.
"To finish in front, even if it required a bit more energy ... it was the last race of the day and we were going for a medal. At the end, I couldn't feel my legs even if they were hurting."
After finding out the results, Girard hugged his coach Derrick Campbell before returning to the centre of the ice with a big smile. He then went to rejoin Hamelin who enthusiastically congratulated him.
"He would have loved to have this medal here, but he's happy that I'm the one who has it," Girard said. "It was a nice moment. It's a bit of passing the torch, it's a bit of that image."
"Charles played a huge role for him," Campbell said. "He's one of the best in the world in the sport and he's the ideal mentor for Sam."
Girard had finished fourth in the 1,500 last Saturday while Hamelin was also penalized in that final.
Hamelin, who is competing in his fourth and final Olympics, was once again disappointed at his premature finish in the 1,000 semifinal.
"I got tangled up with the American (Krueger) in the straight line. I lost my balance and took the turn too big," Hamelin said. "I wanted to protect my place because I knew there was a chance at passing me on the inside.
"There was Sam on one side and another skater was trying to pass me on the inside at the same time. It's too bad because I had the legs to do better."
The 33-year-old Hamelin wasn't able to add the 1,000 title to his Olympic medal haul after already taking the 500 in Vancouver in 2010 and the 1,500 four years ago in Sochi.
"I realized it as soon as I saw the decision," Hamelin said. "It was official. I certainly would have liked (to advance) but I can't feel sorry for myself."
Hamelin, from Sainte-Julie, Que., and Girard will both participate in the 500 and the 5,000 relay on Thursday.
It will give Hamelin a final chance to equal the mark of Canadians Marc Gagnon and Francois-Louis Tremblay in short-track speedskating with five medals. If he's able to reach the podium twice, he would join Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes one of the most decorated athletes in Canadian Olympic history.
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