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Retiring speed skater hopes to be remembered as 'living legend'

Sports 18:57 May 16, 2019

SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) -- Two-time Olympic gold medalist Lee Sang-hwa put an end to her lucrative career on Thursday, saying she wants be remembered as a "living legend" in speed skating.

"Since the PyeongChang Winter Games, I've tried to continue my athletic career, but I failed to keep myself in top condition due to a chronic knee injury," Lee said in a press conference in Seoul. "I decided to retire at a time when fans remember my best times."

Lee, 30, will go down as one of South Korea's greatest winter sport athletes ever and also among the very best speed skaters of her generation.

Lee won the gold medal in the women's 500 meters at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and repeated that feat four years later in Sochi, Russia.

In between these two Olympics, Lee broke four world records. Her mark of 36.36 seconds, set on Nov. 16, 2013, in Salt Lake City, Utah, remains the gold standard in the women's 500m.

After battling nagging left knee and right calf injuries, Lee bounced back in time to take the silver medal behind Japan's Nao Kodaira at PyeongChang 2018, a gutsy performance that silenced naysayers but also signaled the approaching end.

When asked how she wanted to be remembered, Lee answered that she wanted to remain a "living legend."

"I received the same questions after the PyeongChang Olympics and I said I wanted to be a living legend," she said. "My answer hasn't changed. I want to be remembered as a player that makes the impossible possible, and always does her best."

She said she has no detailed future plan for after retirement, but she still wants to participate in the next Winter Games in Beijing.

"I want to go to Beijing as a coach or a commentator," she said.

Speed skater Lee Sang-hwa speaks at a press conference in Seoul on May 16, 2019. (Yonhap)

brk@yna.co.kr
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