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Two-time world champion wins women's short track Olympic trials; upsets abound for men

All Headlines 21:30 April 09, 2017

SEOUL, April 9 (Yonhap) -- Two-time world overall champion Choi Min-jeong won the women's Olympic short track trials with ease on Saturday, while upsets abounded on the men's side.

Choi won both the 1,000m and 1,500m super final races at the Olympic trials at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul. Choi had also won the 500m and 1,500m races a day earlier.

Choi, who won the world overall titles in 2015 and 2016, will be making her Olympic debut on home ice at the PyeongChang Winter Games next February.

She had a clean sweep of all races in two rounds of the Olympic trials. In the first round held last Wednesday and Thursday, Choi won the 500m, 1,000m, 1,500m and then 1,500m super final.

South Korean short track speed skater Choi Min-jeong races in the women's 1,500m super final at the Olympic team trials at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul on April 9, 2017. (Yonhap)

Choi, 18, will be joined on the Olympic team by three other qualifiers -- Kim A-lang, Lee Yu-bin and Kim Ye-jin -- along with Shim Suk-hee, who earned an automatic berth by finishing third overall at last month's world championships.

Shim and Choi have dominated women's short track over the past three years and will enter PyeongChang 2018 as favorites to grab multiple medals.

Of the five, only Kim A-lang and Shim have previous Olympic experience. They teamed up for the 3,000m relay gold medal at Sochi 2014.

There were major surprises on the men's side, where Lim Hyo-jun, a virtual unknown who has never even sniffed an Olympic spot before, won the trials.

Lim, 20, finished seventh in the 1,000m on Saturday but clinched the top spot in the trials by taking the 1,500m super final.

Two other no-names, Hwang Dae-heon, a 17-year-old high school senior, and Kim Do-kyoum, 24, also qualified for the Olympics, along with Kwak Yoon-gy, the 2012 world overall champion and 2010 Olympic silver medalist.

They will be joined by Seo Yi-ra, who won this year's world overall title to clinch an Olympic berth.

Gone from the team are Lee Jung-su, double gold medalist at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Sin Da-woon, the 2013 world overall champion, and Park Se-yeong, a national team mainstay since 2014.

South Korea leads all nations with 21 gold medals and 42 medals in total in Olympic short track. The country's depth is such that making the Olympic team is considered nearly as difficult as actually winning a medal at the quadrennial competition.

South Korean short track speed skater Lim Hyo-jun (L) races in the men's 1,500m super final at the Olympic team trials at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul on April 9, 2017. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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