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Ohno wins bronze, record seventh medal

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  February 20, 2010 11:55 PM

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- When it comes to winning precious medals, short-track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno now stands alone at the podium.

But it took a daring last-lap dash to get him there.

Ohno won the bronze medal in the men's short-track 1,000-meter race tonight at Pacific Coliseum. The medal is the seventh of his career, the most all-time by a US Winter Olympics athlete.

Ohno, 27, broke the record he shared for exactly a week with long-track speedskater Bonnie Blair, who earned five golds and a bronze during her career. Ohno now owns two golds, two silvers, and three bronzes, and he has two more races remaining here in Vancouver, the 500-meter and the 5,000-meter relay.

The gold and silver medals in the 1,000 meters were claimed by Korea, with Jung-Su Lee winning in an Olympic-record time of 1 minute 23.747 seconds and teammate Ho-Suk Lee second with a 1:23.801. Ohno arrived at the line at 1:24.128.

A place on the podium was no certainty for Ohno as the final took shape. He began third on the inside and remained in that position behind Canadian brothers Charles and Francois Hamelin until there were three laps remaining.

He made a quick move that briefly moved him into second place, but he fell back to fifth after a slight slip. But with the Koreans making their move to overcome the Hamelin brothers and take the lead, Ohno went for it with a half-lap remaining, slipping past the pair of Canadians and crossing the line ahead of Charles Hamelin, much to the chagrin of the crowd.

By winning the bronze, Ohno . . .

  • . . . is tied for first on the all-time Winter Olympic total career medals by men, not including the skiing events.

  • . . . owns the most medals won by a short-track speedskater from any nation.

  • . . . is tied for 15th overall and seventh among men on the career Winter Olympic medals list.

  • . . . is the sixth short-track speedskater to win medals during three different Olympic Games.

  • . . . ranks fourth on the all-time Winter Olympic list for medals won, not including skiing events.

    * * *

    11:11 p.m. "Welcome to the Jungle" is pounding from the PA system. Knew they'd get the music right eventually.

    And now the arena is rocking with rising, dueling chants of "USA! USA!" and "CAN-A-DA! CAN-A-DA!" Great crowd, great atmosphere, great sport. Here's hoping for a worthy final.

    11:05 p.m. Reutter finishes fourth, with Zhou Yang of China taking the gold with a new women's 1,500-meter Olympic record of 2:16.99.

    Update, 10:39 p.m. Ohno is headed to the finals. Whether he made it by the length of his skate blade or half-a-length . . . well, your guess is as good as ours here in the arena.

    What we are sure of is that Ohno will get a crack at his seventh career medal tonight after edging Canadian Charles Hamelin and world-record-holder Si-Bak Sung of Korea at the line. Ohno and Hamelin advance to the final, but it wasn't certain until a replay was shown on the scoreboard.

    Ohno won the race in 1:25.033, with Hamelin earning the second berth in the finals at 1:25.62. Sung was left out, finishing just 0.06 behind the Canadian.

    Ohno began in fourth place on the outside of the 10-lap race. He took third on the seventh lap, passing China's Jialiang Han as he staggered a bit on a turn. Ohno remained in third most of the way.

    Then, with half a lap remaining and a berth in the finals at stake, it was time. He moved wide to the outside, then deftly cut inside of the leader Sung as well as Hamelin, passing them in one swoop going around the second-to-last turn. It appeared that Ohno was the first across the line, but it was not certain until the replay . . .

    The finalists are Ohno, both Hamelins, Ho-Suk Lee (Korea) and Jung-Su Lee (Korea).

    In the women's 1,000 meters coming up here in a minute or two, American Katherine Reutter is a finalist. She advanced from her semifinal after a fall caused by China’s Meng Wang. (In the arena right now, they're calling that "pulling a Celski.")

    Update, 10:33 p.m. The first semifinal -- a.k.a. The One Ohno Isn't In -- is underway, with J.R. Celski starting from the first (and inside position) . . .

    . . . and as we're writing that, he becomes Public Enemy No. 1 in the rink, at least temporarily, when his aggressive move on the final lap resulted in contact that sent Canadian Francois Hamelin skidding into the boards.

    Celski finished third -- not enough to qualify for the semis anyway -- but the crowd did enjoy a cheer moments later when it was announced he was disqualified.

    Ohno's race begins momentarily . . .

    Update, 9:33 p.m. Effortless. That's the first word that comes to mind to describe Apolo Anton Ohno's performance in his1,000-meter quarterfinal race moments ago.

    Ohno finished a mostly suspense-free second place to Canada's Charles Hamelin; the top two in each quarterfinal advance to the semis.

    Hamelin finished in 1 minute 23.3 seconds, 0.2 seconds ahead of Ohno.

    Ohno started third and remained there in the 10-lap race until 2 1/2 remained. That's when he made his move, easily passing Germany's Tyson Heung on the outside and pulling away along with Hamelin before cruising over the finish line.

    In the third quarterfinal, J.R. Celski, who earned a bronze in the 1,500 a week ago, finished second to Korea's Si-Bak Sung to advance.

    Also, a note from the women's 1,500 meters: Americans Katherine Reutter and Allison Baver both are in the semis.

    The men's semis are set to start at 10:28 p.m. As you might expect, there's lots of Zamboni action here between races.

    * * *

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Here at the Pacific Coliseum, it's almost showtime for Apolo.

    He probably requires no further introduction than that, but we'll go on with the formality anyway. Short-track speedskating Apolo Anton Ohno's status as a short-track speedskating icon (and a first-ballot "Dancing With The Stars" Hall of Famer) is already secure.

    But tonight he takes his first shot at an even greater legacy: The most decorated US Winter Olympian of all time. With a medal tonight, he will break his week-old tie with former long-track speedskater Bonnie Blair for the most career medals won by an American in the winter games, with six. Ohno enters with two complete sets of medals -- two gold, two silver, two bronze. Blair, as she reminded reporters jokingly -- but reminded us nonetheless -- earlier this week, has five golds and a bronze.

    Ohno, a three-time Olympian, has won a pair of medals in this event in the past -- a silver in 2002 in Salt Lake City and a bronze in 2006 in Torino, Italy. But a medal for the 27-year-old Ohno is far from a sure thing. He will start third in in the first quarterfinal, a deep field that also includes Canadian Charles Hamelin, Germany's Tyson Heung, and Italy's Nicolas Bean.

    Fellow American J.R. Celski, who took bronze in the 1,500 last Saturday when Ohno grabbed the silver, starts from the No. 2 position in the third quarterfinal. Other medal contenders should include South Koreans Si-Bak Sung, Ho-Suk Lee, and Jung-Su. Lee.

    The latter won gold in the 1,500 meters, while Sung and Lee fell while angling for position and wound up in a heap just before the finish line, allowing Ohno to slip in for an improbable silver and tie Blair's mark.

    Ohno is ranked second in the world in the 1,000 meters distance, but if he doesn't win his seventh medal tonight, he'll have two more shots in Vancouver. He still has the 500 meters and the 5,000-meter relay on his docket.

    * * *

  • There was some skull-thumpingly awful techno music playing as the entrants in the ladies' 1,500 meters warm up. The perpetrator is introduced over the public address system as DJ Irene. She'll never be mistaken for DJ Pauly D. The men are now warming up to a mix of hip-hop and AC/DC. The superior option, clearly. (Now Green Day. Even more progress . . .)

  • Tonight's theme at the Coliseum is "Celebrating the Yukon." If this guy puts in a cameo, I'll pass it along.

    All right, we'll be back for Ohno's lead-off quarterfinal, which is slated for 9:29 p.m. EST. The women's 1,500-meter heats are about to begin . . .

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