Japanese speed skater Nao Kodaira, who recently won the gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, comforted her longtime competitor, South Korea’s Lee Sang-hwa.
Kodaira won the medal on Sunday in the 500m (meters) women’s speed skating event, setting a new Olympic record with a score of 36.94, while Lee only managed to earn the silver medal with a score of 37.33, Yahoo Sports reported.
Mutual respect between ‘rivals’ Nao Kodaira and Lee Sang-hwa, who finished first and second in the women’s 500 meters speed skating. via /r/sports https://t.co/VVYNbvUMkN
— Joseph Floyd (@Paola_Rojas_H) February 18, 2018
Instead of celebrating her own victory, Kodaira immediately turned her attention to Lee to see if she was alright. The two athletes continued to skate alongside each other while Kodaira embraced Lee to console her when she began to cry.
Twitter users were touched by the display of sportsmanship:
— Rivka Oppenheim (@Rivkaoppenheim) February 19, 2018
Beautiful moment of sportsmanship on the #SpeedSkating long track as 500m gold medal winner Nao Kodaira of #JPN comforted the silver medalist Lee Sang-hwa of #KOR as she was heartbroken that she had not defended her Olympic title. Love this stuff. #PyeongChang2018 #Olympics
— Dan Hunt (@DanPHuntington) February 19, 2018
— akky (@mn_osc) February 18, 2018
@Nao_kodaira Congratulations on your winning of golden medal today, and renewing olympic record! And, as one of Korean, I really thank you. You must have been a great comfort to Lee Sang-Hwa and her last appearance.
— 백구 [Moon Rises!] (@wind_blows) February 18, 2018
OH DAAAAAANG this is so emotional all around. @Nao_Kodaira wins the showdown! #KOR Lee Sang-hwa takes silver in women’s #speedskating 500m … Lee can’t hold back her tears as she is consoled by the #JPN gold medalist, Kodaira #pyeongchang2018
— Elise Hu (@elisewho) February 18, 2018
While speaking with Japan Times, Kodaira went on to call Lee her friend, saying, “We have competed against each other for many years. I really respect her and I really look up to her. as a human being and a skater.”
— poet | artist (@jonghyunisbling) February 18, 2018
“I respect her control as a skater,” said Lee, who has been rivals with the Japanese speed skater for more than 10 years. “We have a lot of memories. We have shared a lot together.”
Congratulations to Kodaira and Lee for winning the gold and silver medals.
Featured image screenshot via YouTube / Ayumu 1440