GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- South Korean short track star Choi Min-jeong, who set a new Olympic record in the women's 500 meters last week in heats, said Monday that she is ready to fight for the country's first gold in the distance.
"I have made all the necessary preparations. I will race without any regrets," Choi told reporters after finishing her practice at an ice rink in Gangneung, the sub-host city of the 2018 Winter Games.
Choi has reached the quarterfinals in the 500m, which will take place Tuesday, to be followed by the semifinals and the final in the same evening.
Choi set the Olympic record Saturday in a preliminary round of the women's 500m, when she clocked in at 42.870 seconds to beat the previous mark by 0.002 second. In fact, that earlier record was set by Elise Christie of Britain just moments before Choi's race.
South Korean short track skater Choi Min-jeong performs during a heat for the women`s 500-meter race at Gangneung Ice Arena, 230 kilometers east of Seoul, on Feb. 10, 2018. (Yonhap)
South Korea has been second to none when it comes to short track speed skating, especially for the women's team. The country, however, has never won a gold medal in the women's 500m race.
Accordingly, Choi has been expressing a desire to become the champion in the distance, although her major area of focus is the 1,000m and the 1,500m.
"There are many variations in the distance, as the competition is done in such a short time," Choi said. "But as I have finished all preparations, I think I can compete without any burden."
At Monday's training, Choi boasted speed that matched with the male teammates, suggesting she is maintaining her optimistic physical condition.
When asked who is the biggest competitor for the 500m race, Choi replied as a matter of fact herself.
"Not only for the 500m, all events are about fighting myself," Choi said.
Considering Chinese rival's aggressive tactics, Choi said she practiced enough to deal with any situations.
"If I am too conscious about it, it may affect my race," Choi said. "I have made sufficient practices to race under various conditions." (Yonhap)