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The women’s 500-meter speed skating final on Sunday was never in doubt. Nao Kodaira of Japan sprinted ahead from the start and set an Olympic record with a time of 36.94 to clinch the gold medal.
Kodaira, 31, entered the tournament as the favorite having won gold at the World Championships in the 500 meters, as well as the sprint, and is already the world record holder in the 1000 meters. South Korea’s Lee Sang Hwa the 28-year-old, two-time defending Olympic champion claimed the silver, but was distraught afterwards and had to be consoled by Kodaira. In a display of good sportsmanship, the two competitors from contentious nations embraced afterwards.
Japan’s Nao Kodaira and S Korea’s Lee Sang-hwa side-by-side. The two might have been rivals but following the race, they embraced one another, skating together and holding their respectful flags. A rare sight for current Japan-S Korea relations pic.twitter.com/KE4AQZx17n
— Joseph Kim (@josungkim) February 18, 2018
Kodaira’s gold medal ended a 20-year gold medal drought for the Japanese in women’s and men’s speed skating.
— Gracenote Olympic (@GracenoteGold) February 18, 2018