Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hamelin hauls in double gold on short track

Wins 500, 5,000 relay on fantastic Friday

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VANCOUVER -- After a rough start to the Vancouver Olympics, Canadian short-track speedskater Charles Hamelin has struck double gold.

The 25-year-old from Ste-Julie, Que., won the 500 metres and then added to his medal haul in the 5,000-metre relay later Friday evening.

Hamelin was joined in the relay by younger brother Francois Hamelin, Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que., and Francois-Louis-Trembay of Montreal. Alternate Guillaume Bastille of Riviere-du-Loup, Que., who skated in the earlier rounds, also received a medal.

"What we had hoped for was an exceptional day," said Yves Hamelin, the team leader and father of Charles and Francois.

"To have results like that all the planets have to be aligned. There are often unplanned things that happen in short-track. But today it was our turn and we had good races."

Charles Hamelin failed to make the podium in the 1,500 and 1,000 metres earlier in the Games. That prompted the Canadian team to focus on the 500 metres and the relays where they felt they had almost a guaranteed spot on the podium.

The strategy worked to perfection in the relay, while Hamelin had to survive a roller derby-like finish in the 500.

When the relay team received their medals, all five skaters kissed the podium.

China led the relay early on but the Canadians took the lead with some 20 laps remaining and held on for the gold in six minutes 44.224 seconds.

South Korea won silver in 6:44.446 and the United States claimed the bronze in 6:44.498.

The Canadian relay team had worked out a pre-race plan where Tremblay skipped one of his exchanges to throw off the other skaters and save up energy for the critical final laps.

Earlier, Tremblay won bronze behind Charles Hamelin in a wild and woolly 500 final that saw two skaters go down in the final stretch.

Hamelin was leading until he was overtaken by Sung Si-Bak. But the South Korean slipped in a wild finish that saw Tremblay also go down.

Hamelin almost lost his balance as he lurched across the line in front.

There was a delay as judges conferred. Then Canada got the nod and the celebrations began.

Hamelin was given the gold in 40.981 seconds, Sung the silver in 41.340 and Montreal's Tremblay the bronze in 46.366.

American Apolo Anton Ohno was disqualified for knocking Tremblay into the padded boards, a move that denied the American star a third individual medal at these Games. He made up for that in the relay soon after, however.

Hamelin and Tremblay were ranked one and two over 500 metres this World Cup season.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 27, 2010 D5

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