Favourite Lee Sang-Hwa of the Republic of Korea smashed the Olympic record en route to a superb defence of her 500m speed skating title on Tuesday afternoon, maintaining the form she has shown in a dominant year.
The Korean took gold at the Adler Arena with a combined time of 74.70 seconds from her two races, putting her comfortably ahead of Russian silver medalist Olga Fatkulina (75.06) and Dutch rival Margot Boer (75.48), who took bronze.
Lee amassed a lead of 0.15 seconds in her first race and, going out in the final pair second time around, looked certain to extend her advantage. She did so with a record time of 37.28 seconds, ensuring that her total time also entered the Olympic history books.
It was another resounding success for the 24 year-old, who has won her seven World Cup races this season.
As she explained on crossing the finish line, a desire to defend her team colours had been at the forefront of her mind throughout the competition.
“Of course, I thought of everyone and this made me even more determined to get the gold medal for Korea,” she commented.
A remarkable year
Lee’s victory meant that she became only the third speed skater in history to win multiple gold medals in this event, joining the USA’s Bonnie Blair – who won it three times – and Canada’s Catriona Le May Doan.
The achievement caps a remarkable few months for two-time world champion Lee, who broke the 500m record no fewer than four times in 2013.
Fatkulina, who won 1,000m gold and 500m bronze at last year’s World Single Distance Speed Skating Championships – also held in Sochi – confirmed her status among the world’s elite.
Meanwhile bronze medallist Boer extended what has been a glittering Winter Games for the Dutch in the speed skating events, taking their Sochi 2014 medal haul in the long and short track to nine.