Sochi, Russian Federation (4E Sports) – South Korea’s Lee Sang-hwa lived up to her billing as overwhelming favorite, winning the gold medal in the women’s 500-meter speedskating event of the Sochi Winter Olympics at Adler Arena Skating Center.
The 24-year-old Lee set Olympic records in the process for both a single heat (37.28 seconds in the second heat) and total two-heat time (74.70 seconds) — but fell short of breaking the world record (36.36 seconds) for the fourth time this season on her way to the gold medal.
Russia’s Olga Fatkulina bagged silver while Margot Boer of the Netherlands captured bronze.
”I can’t believe I am standing next to Lee on the podium. She is so good,” Boer gushed later. “It feels like I won gold.”
Lee, a native of Seoul, made her Olympic debut as a 16-year-old in the 2006 Turin Olympics, finishing fifth in the 500 meters. Her first World Cup-level victory came at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where she took the gold by a mere 0.05 seconds over Germany’s Jenny Wolf.
”Lee is amazing,” said Heather Richardson, who was the top U.S. medal hope but finished eighth, falling short in her quest to become the first American woman to medal in the 500 meters since Bonnie Blair won the last of her three gold medals in 1994.