South Korean short track skater Choi Min-jeong managed to defend her previous 2018 Olympic gold medal during the final short track race at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, boosting South Korea’s total medal count to seven.
Choi, 23, beat Italy’s Arianna Fontana and Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands to secure her third gold medal ever during the 1,500-meter final held at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on Wednesday, CNN reported.
Known as the “Queen of Korean Short Track,” Choi set a new Olympic record with her semifinal run before taking the gold in the finals with a score of 2:17.789.
“Four years ago, I was happy to win the 1,500m title, but this time I’m happy and proud that I managed to successfully defend it,” Choi told reporters, according to Reuters.
Fontana is reportedly Italy’s most decorated Winter Olympian after winning her 11th medal. Choi’s other competitor, Schulting, took home her fourth Beijing Winter Olympics medal after winning gold in the 1,000-meter and 3,000-meter relays and silver in the 500 meters, according to CNN
With Choi’s win, all three athletes have successfully defended their gold medals earned in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, where Fontana won the 500 meters, Schulting the 1,000 meters and Choi the 1,500 meters.
“It is wonderful to compete against such wonderful athletes,” Choi said. “We are growing together. This competition is really wonderful. In order to keep up with these two I will have to continue making strong efforts.”
Before her gold medal win, Choi placed second in the 1,000-meter and the 3,000-meter events.
“After the 1000m race, my previous performance was so disappointing I didn’t think I would get a great result. But I ended up with silver. So a lot of emotions went through my mind and I cried a lot,” Choi told reporters.
“After crying a lot, I was able to pull myself together to prepare myself for the relay and today’s race. I think that helped me get better results.”
South Korea has so far earned seven medals – two golds, four silvers and one bronze – at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, all of which were earned from either short track or speed skating events, Yonhap News Agency reported.