sport

An strikes gold for Russia

Victor An became the first man to win four Olympic gold medals in short track when he stormed to victory in the 1000 metres final for Russia.

As the home fans roared an exciting race at the Iceberg Skating Palace to its climax, the South Korean-born 28-year-old edged out team mate Vladimir Grigorev to win with a time of one minute 25.325 seconds.

At 31, Grigorev became the oldest man to secure an Olympic medal in short track with a time of 1:25.399, with Sjinkie Knegt taking bronze in 1:25.611, Holland's first Olympic medal in short track.

"I'm very happy, but I'm even more happy because Russia managed to win both the gold and silver," An said.

"I had no idea Russia was such a strong short track country. I want to try to win the relay and hope to enjoy the other competitions at these Games."

Ukraine-born Grigorev revealed that he and An had formed an alliance in the final.

He said: "I was speaking to Victor earlier and it was our strategy - for me to block out the skaters, to hold them back, and for us to go fast so it would be impossible for the other athletes to chase us."

Knegt, who was advanced to the final after ruling he had been fouled by South Korea's Lee Han-bin in the first semi-final - with Lee disqualified as a result - was simply delighted with his achievement.

"I can't find any words," he said." I'm so happy.

"This is the first short track medal for the Netherlands, and I still can't believe it."

There was plenty of excitement, too, in the women's 1500m final, where China's Zhou Yang successfully defended her title after avoiding a three-skater crash in mid-race.

She finished in 2:19.140, with Korea's Shim Suk-hee in second place and 500m silver medallist Arianna Fontana of Italy taking bronze.

The Chinese champion revealed her delight at winning two consecutive Olympic gold medals.

"I've been through a lot during the past four years," said Zhou. "I didn't expect I could come back to the Olympic Games. I just wanted to do my best during training and competition.

"I didn't put too much pressure on myself. I'm happy to compete here."

Korean silver medallist Shim said: "I'm happy, but not totally happy. I couldn't run my best race, but it's my first Olympics and I think I did it okay."