Zhang brings hope to China's speed skating

Updated: 2014-02-14 09:49 (Xinhua)

Zhang brings hope to China's speed skating
China's Zhang Hong skates during the women's 1,000 metres speed skating race at the Adler Arena during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 13, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua] 

SOCHI - China's Zhang Hong won a historic gold in women's 1,000m speed skating in Sochi to finish the country's gold drought in the sport in Olympics.

Zhang brings hope to China's speed skating
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Zhang brings hope to China's speed skating
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The 25-year-old skater made a strong sprint in the end of her race and timed one minute 14.02 seconds, which was nearly 0.7 second faster than anyone else and just missed the Olympic mark by 0.19 seconds.

Ireen Wust of the Netherlands took the silver in 1:14.69, while Margot Boer earned bronze in 1:14.90.

"The gold is a huge surprise for me. I can't believe it. China has been waiting for the gold for 22 years," said Zhang. "I didn't expect I could win. It seems so unreal.

"I didn't think about the time in my race. What I did was to compete against myself."

China won its first Olympic speed skating medal in 1992 when Ye Qiaobo finished runner-up over both 1,000m and 500m. But the gold had never come until the Sochi Games.

Zhang, fourth in the 500m Tuesday, skated in the seventh of 18 pairs based on her previous results. She had to wait for 22 more skaters to finish the race before knowing she had made history.

Then she sat down in the middle of the oval for an agonizing one-hour wait. "I don't think anybody could feel what I felt while waiting," she said.

Zhang, whose best result before was a second-place finish at last month's world sprint championships, missed out on a medal in the 500m. She had led much of the opening round, but went slower in the second round and eventually finished fourth, missing a medal by 0.1 second.

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