China's Wang wins gold in short track
Updated: 2006-02-16 06:40
After all the drama of the past few days, this was
almost a can't-miss for the Chinese, a powerhouse in Summer Olympics but who
only won their first Winter gold in Salt Lake City four years ago.
Overwhelming favorite Wang Meng won China the first
gold medal in Turin, holding off Bulgaria's Evgenia Radanova by the length of a
skate in the women's 500-meter short track final Wednesday night.
Wang Meng from China celebrates her woman's
500 metres short track speed skating final at the Torino 2006 Winter
Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, February 15, 2006.
"It was challenging," Wang said. "It was very close at the end."
She still has three races to go, and "I haven't turned off the power," she
The 20-year-old Wang is skating in her first Olympics and won all four World
Cup races in the 500 this season.
For the Chinese, though, so much had gone wrong already that nothing could be
taken for granted, especially in the thrills-and-spills sport of short track
On Tuesday, Wang Manli was just as big a favorite in the women's long track
500 and she crumbled under the pressure, winning silver.
A day earlier, Zhang Dan crashed spectacularly in the final of the figure
skating pair's competition, effectively ending any hope to earn gold with her
partner, Zhang Hao.
Wang Meng however fulfilled all expectations of her nation, getting off the
line first and holding the lead the rest of the way. The only time she crashed
was during a victory lap when her skate got tangled in the Chinese flag and she
tumbled to the ice.
Radanova made a desperate lunge for the finish, falling after she crossed and
sliding into the padding. But it was only good enough for her second straight
silver medal in the 500.
At the end of the race, Wang had no doubts that she had won, roaring in
delight and speeding across to her coach for a hug and to pick up a huge Chinese
flag which she took on a victory lap of the Palavela rink.
Radanova, the 2002 silver medallist and European champion, looked
disappointed as she took the second step on the podium while Wang jumped up and
down on the gold spot, giving the thumbs up and V for victory sign and kissing
the Chinese flag on her top.
Canada's Anouk Leblanc-Boucher, seen as an outsider coming into the Olympics,
crossed the line almost at the same time as China's Fu Tianyu and thought she
had been pipped to the podium until Fu was disqualified for crossing.
Leblanc-Boucher looked as happy as if she had won the gold, hardly believing
she was stepping up on to the Olympic podium having only ever won one World Cup
medal in the 500 in 2004/05.