China won its first gold medal at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics after Team USA was penalized and then disqualified after a review of the short-track speed skating mixed-gender team relay over the weekend.
Team USA came in second after Hungary during the semifinal speed skating race on Saturday, earning the American team a chance to win gold at the finals. Meanwhile, China finished third, but only the teams that place first and second can advance to the finals, according to Yahoo! Sports.
However, after a lengthy review, judges deemed that the American team impeded China twice in the semifinal and ultimately disqualified them.
An International Skating Union official declared that American skater Ryan Pivirotto had blocked a Chinese skater after he illegally crossed onto the raceway before tagging in, according to The New York Times.
“Apparently one of our teammates crossed the blue line, and that made the Chinese team miss their exchange or something like that,” said Team USA speed skater Maame Biney, according to USA Today. “It was an interesting call, for sure. But it is what it is.”
China finished the grand finals with a total time of 2:37.348 on the clock. Italy finished second with a time of 2:37.364, and Hungary finished third with a time of 2:40.900 in the grand finals.
“I feel that I’ve waited for this Olympic gold medal for too long,” Fan Kexin, from the Chinese mixed-gender relay team, said. “I don’t care about what I’ve been through in the past — the pain, the injuries. When you’re standing on that competition field, at that moment, there are no excuses, and you go all out. In the coming events, we won’t give up for one moment, not for one second. We’ll continue going for it.”
Short-track speed skating has reportedly become one of China’s best winter sports in recent years, as the country won three of its nine medals from the 2018 Winter Olympics and six of its nine medals from the 2014 Winter Olympics in the discipline.
“We’ve gone through so much in the past four years, and then the dream came true on the first day,” Wu Dajing, another member of the Chinese team, said.
Before the win was officially declared, state-run newspaper The Global Times had already published a report to congratulate the Chinese team for winning gold.
In a tweet on Saturday, Pivirotto said his focus is now on Monday’s 1,000-meter (3,280 feet) quarterfinals.
“Individually I made it onto the 1000m quarters and I’m super proud of my performance and resilience,” he wrote. “For the mixed it’s the other side of the coin, while we all skated our absolute best and proved that we were a medal contender fate decided to play it differently.”
During the grand finals, China’s Wu reportedly finished 0.016 seconds faster than Italy’s Pietro Sighel, and judges declared that the host country had won first place.
Meanwhile, Hungary ended up winning bronze after Canada was disqualified due to a collision.