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South Korea’s Lee fails to defend Olympic title

February 18, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Lee Seung-hoon finished fourth in defense of his Olympic 10,000-meter speedskating title Tuesday, leaving South Korea without a long track medal so far in Sochi.

He finished the 25-lap race in 13 minutes, 11.68 seconds — more than 13 seconds slower than four years ago in Vancouver, when he won the gold after Sven Kramer of the Netherlands was disqualified for skating in the wrong lane.

Lee skated against Kramer in the last pairing at Adler Arena. Early on, Lee was ahead of Kramer while turning laps that were just over 30 seconds. Then he started to fade. Lee’s last four laps were all more than 33 seconds, including a 33.89 closing lap.

“If I would have chosen the right strategy for this race, I would have won because I got good results during training,” Lee said. “I needed to pay more attention to the last 5,000. I was too slow in the second half and I was too fast in the first 5,000. That made me slow down.”

A nation better known for short track skating, South Korea has yet to win a medal on the big oval at the Sochi Games. Four years ago, the Koreans won five medals, a tally topped only by the dominant Dutch.

Jorrit Bergsma led a Dutch sweep of the podium in the 10,000, holding on for gold in 12:44.45 after Kramer’s pace faded in the closing laps. Kramer took silver in 12:49.02 and 37-year-old Bob de Jong earned bronze in 13:07.19. Lee missed the third spot on the podium by about 4 ½ seconds.

“I’m still a little bit upset, but not too down,” he said. “I want to be determined for the team pursuit because the team has a good chance for that.”

The men’s team pursuit begins Friday with the quarterfinals and semifinals. The medal round is Saturday.

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