Charles Hamelin wins gold in 1,500-metre short track
Canada's 5th medal in Sochi
Short track Canadian speed skater Charles Hamelin won gold in the men's 1,500 metres at the Winter Olympics in Sochi on Monday.
Hamelin made a sneaky move in the latter half of the race, going out wide on a straightaway then cutting inside on a turn to jump from third to first. "They wanted to keep their place and there was movement behind me," Charles Hamelin told CBC's Scott Russell after his big win. "I decided to pass and go back to first."
That's exactly what he did, holding off his competitors from then on and finishing with a time of two minutes, 14.985 seconds, edging Han Tianyu of China.
"It is the best I can dream of, coming in the Olympics and having that gold in the 1,500 metre," Hamelin told CBC Sports. "We always said in the last few years that it was our weakness, but I really worked hard to prove everyone wrong and I think today was the day."
Han finished just behind Hamelin to take the silver for China.
"It's my first Olympic Winter Games, I'm a little bit nervous," Han said. "I didn't think very much. I never thought I could make it to the finals, let alone stand on the podium. I took every round as my final, and tried my best to compete."
Viktor Ahn, who was born in South Korea but was skating for Russia, earned the bronze, giving Russia its first-ever short-track medal.
"That guy is always there in the 1,500-metre," Hamelin said of Ahn. "I knew I had to have the best energy at the end because he will have a lot of energy."
The 2010 bronze medallist from Vancouver, American J.R. Celski, finished fourth.
More medals possible
Hamelin, a native of Ste. Julie, Que is a medal favourite in three other events, so Monday's gold could be the first of many for him. If he gets three more medals, he'll become the most decorated Canadian Olympian of all time.
The gold was Canada's second of the Games.
As Hamelin entered the final lap in the lead, his girlfriend and teammate Marianne St-Gelais couldn't control her excitement, racing from her seat to the sidelines to give him a congratulatory hug.
The gold in the 1,500 was a bit of a surprise given it's not the 29-year-old's best event. He finished seventh in Vancouver where he won gold in the 500 and the 5,000-metre relay. He also has a silver from the 2006 Turin Olympics.
He has been virtually unbeatable this season, winning six World Cup races.
Francois Hamelin, Charles' brother, and Michael Gilday of Yellowknife didn't advance to the final. Gilday was disqualified in the semis and Hamelin was second in the B final.
"I bumped with the French, just guessing," Gilday said. "Or it was at the start with the Chinese skater. I'm not sure. It wasn't the best start for me, obviously."
In the women's 500 preliminaries, St-Gelais, from Saint-Felicien, Que., Jessica Hewitt of Kamloops, B.C., and Valerie Maltais of La Baie, Que., all advanced from the heats.
St-Gelais, Hewitt, Maltais and Marie-Eve Drolet of Chicoutimi, Que., also advanced in the women's 3,000-metre relay.
(With files from The Canadian Press)