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[BEIJING OLYMPICS] Mixed bag of emotions for inconsolable short track silver medalist

By Yonhap

Published : Feb. 11, 2022 - 23:21

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Choi Min-jeong of South Korea sheds tears after winning the silver medal in the women's 1,000m short track speed skating race at the Beijing Winter Olympics at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on Friday. (Yonhap) Choi Min-jeong of South Korea sheds tears after winning the silver medal in the women's 1,000m short track speed skating race at the Beijing Winter Olympics at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on Friday. (Yonhap)
BEIJING -- After clinching the silver medal in the women's 1,000m short track speed skating race at Beijing 2022 on Friday, South Korean star Choi Min-jeong looked virtually inconsolable.

It wasn't immediately clear if she was crying tears of joy for her first medal in Beijing, or if she was mad at herself for finishing 0.052 second behind the champion, Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands.

It turned out it was a bit of both.

"Honestly, I didn't think I'd cry that much," Choi said in her media scrum at Capital Indoor Stadium. "I've worked so hard for the Olympics here, and I was so happy that all that work paid off in this medal."

Choi spent the early part of the nine-lap race in the back of the pack. She tried to make a move on the outside and nearly caught Schulting at the line before running out of room.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't have regrets about that race," Choi said, before adding with a smile: "But trust me. I cried tears of joy out there today. And I am going to keep working hard to become an even better skater."

Choi started her Friday with the quarterfinals in the 1,000m.

Choi survived a dicey moment in the quarters when her skate caught the ice momentarily, but she somehow maintained her balance.

"I tried to stay as calm as possible," Choi said. "Physically, I felt fine. I just had to correct a few things (technically), and I had no issues in the final."

This was Choi's third career Olympic medal. She won gold medals in the 1,500m and the 3,000m relay at PyeongChang 2018.

Older and wiser, Choi, 23, said Olympic medals have different meanings to her now. And after she took a fall during the 500m quarterfinals earlier in the Olympics, Choi said she would take any medal she can win.

"Back at PyeongChang, I was just happy to win those medals," she said. "Today, this medal brings me all sorts of emotions. Just because of how hard I've had to work for it, this silver means so much to me."

Her silver came two days after Hwang Dae-heon broke through with the men's 1,500m gold medal. Asked if she felt any pressure to continue that streak, Choi said with a smile, "Athletes have to be able to work through that kind of pressure. I think I can handle it."

As happy as she was with her silver, Choi already started looking toward her next races: the 1,500m and 3,000m relays.

"I am only going to celebrate this tonight," she said. "And starting tomorrow, I will go right back to work." (Yonhap)