Ohno Takes Home Bronze Medal

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Speed skater Apolo Ohno's quest for a record seventh Winter Games medal led him to take the bronze in the men's 1,000 meter short track event.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden in for Liane Hansen.

A major accomplishment mixed with disappointment and even disillusionment for American speed skaters at the Winter Olympics last night. Short track star Apolo Ohno settled for a bronze medal in the 1,000 meters. It's his seventh winter medal overall. That sets a new American record. At the long track oval, Shani Davis took the silver medal in the 1,500, a race he was heavily favored to win.

We have two reports from Vancouver, beginning with NPR's Howard Berkes.

(Soundbite of cheering)

HOWARD BERKES: It couldn't have been louder in the Pacific Coliseum last night, with Canadians cheering for brothers Charles and Francois Hamelin, and Americans cheering for Apolo Ohno.

(Soundbite of cheering)

BERKES: Ohno was second with three laps to go, then suddenly slid to last. He rallied in the final lap, racing past the Canadians, but he couldn't catch Koreans Jung-Su Lee and Ho-Suk Lee, who finished in that order for gold and silver. Later, Ohno said he had wanted to win another gold medal.

Mr. APOLO OHNO (U.S. Speed Skater): And I thought I was going to tonight, but some things are out of your control. Tonight was definitely one of those nights, but I can't wait to watch a tape and see how I came back from last place to winning a bronze after that slip.

BERKES: Silver medalist Ho-Suk Lee was asked whether the Koreans were determined to defeat Ohno, given the disputed disqualification of another Korean skater in the 2002 Olympics in an incident involving Ohno. An interpreter provided Lee's response.

Unidentified Woman (Interpreter): That's not any reason for us to defeat Ohno. What we try to do is focus on the present and to win. As that with any other athletes, that we have to win to get the gold at the Olympics.

BERKES: Ohno was asked about the record he now holds, most Winter Olympic medals ever by an American.

Mr. OHNO: For me, it's another historical night. I mean, not just because of the label or because of breaking records, but simply because of the fact that I raced my heart out today, and I represented my country the best I possibly could. And it feels good to be here competing and still be recognized as one of the world's greatest of all time.

BERKES: With two more races to go - the 500 and 5,000 relay - Apolo Ohno still has time to compete, be recognized and add new chapters to the record books in what is likely his final Olympics.

Howard Berkes, NPR News, Vancouver.

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