China and Australia won their first-ever Winter Olympics gold medals Saturday night at the Salt Lake Ice Center in short track speed skating.
It was a very emotional night here, as the woman known as Yang Yang "A" powered to victory in the 500-meters short track event.
The 25-year-old uses the letter "A" to distinguish her from her younger teammate, Yang Yang "S".
Yang Yang "A" is a five-time World Champion, four-time World Cup champion and the world record holder in the 1,000 meters. She finished a disappointing fourth in last Wednesday's 1,500 meters. But now she has what she's wanted most, China's first ever Winter Olympics gold medal. "I feel great tonight," she said. "Before the race I had a lot of pressure, but I told myself, do my best. And I'm Yang Yang "A". Do like I did over the last five years. So I win tonight and I'm so happy about the race."
Her Chinese teammate Wang Chunlu was third for the bronze medal, and the silver went to Bulgarian Evgenia Radanova.
The men's 1,000 meters race had a dramatic finish, where a crash in the final turn sent four of the five skaters to the ice. Favored American Apolo Anton Ohno had been in the lead, but his skate was clipped by China's Li Jiajun. That caused the first four skaters to colide and go down, and allowed Australian Steven Bradbury, who was at the back of the pack, to win the first-ever Winter Olympics gold medal for his country.
"Obviously I'm absolutely ecstatic that I won the gold medal," said Bradbury. "Obviously I also have mixed feelings of how I won the race. Obviously I wasn't the fastest skater out there tonight. I went into the race with the tactics of sitting on the back and waiting for something to happen. I was actually hoping to pick up a bronze medal. And in the nature of short track, there area lot of crashes, but to have four guys go down all at once is something that's not a really commonplace thing. Obviously I had a lot of luck on my side today, but I don't think I'll take the medal as a minute and a half race, or a race I actually won. I'll take it as the last decade of the hard slug [work and training] that I've put in and a reward for effort for myself."
After American Apolo Anton Ohno fell and hit the side wall padding, he scrambled to recover and got his skates across the line while still sprawled on the ice and finished second to take the silver medal. Canadian Mathieu Turcott got the bronze. China's Li Jiajun, who caused the four-skater crash, was disqualified.