- Gao Tingyu became the first Chinese man to win an Olympic gold medal in the men’s 500-meter speed skating competition, setting an Olympic record of 34.32 seconds.
- Suspense grew as Gao waited for the other 16 skaters to finish the race; however, no one beat his record, and the 24-year-old celebrated with a victory lap while carrying the Chinese flag.
- Gao let out a scream as he claimed victory while his teammates and coaches swarmed him in celebration of his record-breaking win.
- The 24-year-old had previously won a bronze medal in the 500-meter speed skating competition at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic.
Gao Tingyu won China its first Olympic gold medal in men’s speedskating with a record-breaking time of 34.32 seconds at the 500-meter event on Saturday.
Before realizing that he had won the gold medal, Gao waited anxiously for the other 16 competitors to finish the race. No one, however, was able to beat his time, and the 24-year-old claimed the 500-meter title.
“It felt like I was riding a roller coaster,” said Gao, according to Fox News. “When I finished my race, there are 16 people behind me, and all of them are great. I felt some pressure until the last group of people.”
In reference to his bronze medal win at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, Gao said, “This is different from four years ago. This time it comes to our home country. I felt excited and nervous. I think this is a good mentality for the competition, especially for such a big event.”
Following his victory, the athlete was swarmed by his team, and Gao let out a big scream to express his excitement. He then grabbed the Chinese flag and celebrated with a victory lap across the infield.
Many of Gao’s competitors praised the athlete and his record-breaking performance.
Sarah Lindsay, a British three-time Olympic short-track speed skater, told BBC One, “It was an untouchable start, nobody was going to catch him after that. It is really important for the home nation to really perform, and it’s under huge pressure, but Gao brought it on the day.”
Swedish speedskater and 2018 gold medalist Haavard Lorentzen also expressed his admiration for Gao and his record-breaking speed, telling Fox News, “Gao was impressive.”
“He’s been a big favorite all season, since he skated so fast in the first World Cup. He raced so fast that everybody thought it would be impossible to beat him at the Olympics. It’s cool to see that he succeeds on home soil,” said Lorentzen.
Previously, China’s only gold medalist in speedskating had been Zhang Hong, who won the women’s 1,000-meter event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Feature Image via NBC Sports