South Korean speed skaters finish first—and then get disqualified

By Jay Yim

It’s amazing how history repeats itself.

Especially in an Olympic speed skating event with South Korea participating. Last night, Korea seemed to write another chapter about its dominance in the women’s 3000 meter relay by winning its fifth consecutive gold medal, edging out China in a race that registered high on the thrill-o-meter scale. The two teams had battled for the lead throughout the contest, but when Kim Min Jung passed Sun Linlin of China with five laps remaining, Korea took control of the race and cruised to an apparent victory finishing with a world-record time of 4:06:07.

But not so fast.

This is speed-skating, a sport where the slightest penalty can completely alter the result of a race. Replays showed that Kim certainly made contact with Lin, but the contact seemed to be an incidental bump—as she executed a tight pass onto the inside part of the track– rather than a deliberate foul. However after carefully studying the tape, officials ruled that Kim had impeded with Sun—which caused the Chinese skater to lose speed, and promptly disqualified Korea from the race, allowing China to claim the gold medal. The Korean squad had already taken a victory lap. They were clearly stunned.

For many Korean speed-skating fans, the incident undoubtedly triggered unpleasant memories of Kim Dong Sung’s controversial DQ of the 1500 meter event at the 2002 Olympics, where Kim lost his gold medal to Apollo Anton Ono after being called for blocking foul. That sparked a thunderstorm of outrage in Korea, with an intense rivalry in speed skating between the United States and Korea resulting in the aftermath.

South Korean coach Choi Kwangbok said he tried to appeal the ruling in last night’s race but there was no regulation to appeal a decision in short track. “I must accept the decision,” he said afterwards. Unfortunately his athletes—Cho Ha-ri, Kim Min-jung, Lee Eun-Byul and Park Seung-Hi—who worked so hard to reach the pinnacle of success in Vancouver, must do the same.

Photo Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald

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  • Sheila Limontas

    It is beyond sad but sadly the Olympics; and you can’t tell the skater you have next year. Plus I think for China it must feel like a hallow win.

  • kill bangzi

    han guo bang zi stupid

  • Celia Y

    Chinese deserves that medal… if u watch the replay carefully u will notice the Korean hit Chinese with her hands and the Chinese suddently being pushed to outer lane, and that’s why Korean could reach the finish line first… The Korean impeding other country’s athletes is a truth but sadly they just dont admit it.

  • jstele

    “Kill Bangzi” and Celia Y are just dumb racists. “Kill Bangzi”‘s comment should be deleted as it contains a slur against Korea.

  • jstele

    Typical nationalists from another Asian country that bash Korea, but can’t get enough of Korean news. You just wish that you were as great as us, so you seethe in your own hatred and envy and bash on Korea to ease your own insecurities.

  • Lynn

    I think it’s just sad and to have Korea disqualified was just wrong.
    I think the Olympics has something against the Koreans. It seems this happens all the time.
    I also think that Ohno has been cocky and his sportsmanship is no longer there.
    He thinks he’s all that and he’s not!

  • rok

    LOL Lynn!! >>> “I think the Olympics has something against the Koreans.”
    Yeah, you’re right. We all have something against Korea…. for no reason whatsoever. LOL
    In fact, they have it so much against Korea that they gave Kim Yuna a gold. Those bastards! LOL

    I saw the replays, the Koreans not only pushed but cut off the Chinese, slowing them down.
    You can’t interfere with other athletes like that. That’s pretty much cheating.

    Maybe next time Korea!

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  • faceman

    If you read ” The Korean Times” 2/25/2010. Title: Controversial officiating ends Korean reign.—” But their coaching
    staff remained stoic, knowing that a collision in the race could affect the official result”. If you look at the video replay, in
    the beginning only three Korean teammates were celebrating the win. Skater 139 who pushed the Chinese skater was not
    participated the celebration. Skater 139’s emotions were not the same as other teammates. The body language and facial expression were different. She seemed already feel that the pushing would cause the problem. Under normal condition,
    if you won the race, you and your coach would be very exciting, for sure would jump up and down at that moment. The
    Korean coach and 139 skater claimed that they did not understand the reason to disqualify them. I think they completely
    understand the reason, but they just denied everything. If this case was reversed, the Chinese was disqualified, the
    Korean won the race. I think the Korean would say that the referee did a good job. Come on , our Korean friends, please
    admit the mistake. Korean teams are very strong. I think they could win lots gold medals without cheating. Please show
    your sportmanship to the world.

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