Wu Dajing (2nd L) of China competes during men's 500m final of short track speed skating at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena, Gangneung, South Korea, Feb. 22, 2018. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)
Wu Dajing won China's first gold medal at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games by breaking world record twice in men's 500 meters short track speed skating here on Thursday.
Wu also became the first Chinese man to win an Olympic short track gold. The Sochi 2014 silver medalist made a strong start in the final and kept the lead before winning the gold medal with a time of 39.584 seconds, 0.216 faster than the previous world record he just set earlier in the quarterfinals.
The world number one's victory finally put an end to the country's anxious wait for a gold medal. In the first 12 days' competition, China, who will host the next Winter Games in 2022, stood at 19th on the medal standings with five silvers and two bronzes.
"I'm very looking forward to today's match. I spare no effort in the event and didn't give referee the chance to give penalty. I just kept my speed and more importantly I believe in myself," said Wu.
"If the gold can be shared, I hope to share it with all of the people (my teammates from Chinese team)."
China, who had been held back from PyeongChang due to penalties in short track, finished third on the short track medals table with one gold and two silver after the final session of short track.
Hwang Daeheon of South Korea won silver in the event, his first Olympic medal. He is 18 years and 232 days old and became the second-youngest man to win an individual Olympic medal for South Korea.
Bronze medallist Lim Hyojun of South Korea ended the Games as the only man with multiple individual short track medals. He also won the men's 1500m on February 10.
Three gold medals were decided on Thursday. Wu went back to the rink soon after his victory and helped China win silver in the men's 5000m relay.
China has climbed to 14th on the overall medals table with one gold, six silver and two bronze.
South Korea has won three of the eight gold medals on offer in this sport, but they failed to clinch gold in Thursday's three events. In women's 1000m, the home star skater Choi Minjeong, winner of two of four World Cup meetings this season, and Sochi bronze medalist Shim Sukhee both crashed in the middle of the race and finished well behind the field.
In men's 5000m relay, South Korea also crashed with 23 laps to go, while Hungary eventually beat China to win the gold with a time of 6 minutes and 31.971 seconds, setting a new Olympic record. Canada ranked the third.
The host is still the biggest winner of short track speed skating with three golds, one silver and two bronzes. The Netherlands ranks second with one gold, two silvers and one bronze.
Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands won the women's 1000m in a time of one minutes 29.778 seconds, giving her country the first short track gold at the Winter Olympics.
"I really can't believe it. It's incredible that it just happened today. I was just enjoying the final at first and I think that's why I won the gold, because I was enjoying it so much," said Schulting.
She believed that the first gold will give a boost to short track in the Netherlands where speed skating dominates.
"Short track six years ago was at the bottom and now we are climbing so fast. I want to inspire all those young kids to do short track as well and make short track as big as long track is in Holland."
Kim Boutin of Canada claimed the silver medal and Arianna Fontana of Italy took bronze medal.
It is Fontana's eighth medal at the Winter Olympics, equalling Victor An of Russia and Apolo Anton Ohno of the United States for the most in short track.
"It means a lot because the 1000m is not my favourite distance at all. I actually hate it. I trained really hard this season because I wanted to be here to try to do something good.
"My goal was to get in the final. I was already super happy and excited that I was in the final. It's my first final in the 1000m at the Olympics, so that was already a big goal for me," said Fontana, winner of women's 500m on Tuesday 13 February.