[OLY] Kim Min-seok set to become new speed skating star in S. Korea: Yonhap

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-02-14 08:14 Updated : 2018-02-14 08:14
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[Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Aju News) -- The surprise bronze medal win by Kim Min-seok in men's 1,500-meter speed skating at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics could herald the opening of a new chapter of South Korean speed skating.

The 18-year old recorded a time of 1:44.93 in the race at the Gangneung Oval, following the Netherlands' Kjeld Nuis and Patrick Roest. He was only 0.07 second short of winning silver, and 0.92 seconds behind the champion. It was Kim's first race at his first Olympics.

His accomplishment in becoming the first Asian skater to make a podium finish in the men's 1,500m distance in the Winter Olympics reminded South Korean people of his teammate Lee Seung-hoon. Lee won the gold medal in men's 10,000m and silver in men's 5,000m speed skating at 2010 Vancouver, breaking the decades-long dominance by European skating powerhouses, like the Netherlands, Germany and Norway.

Before Lee, no Asian skaters had reached the Olympic podium in the two longest events in speed skating since the inaugural Winter Games in 1924. But the 1,500m race still remained untouched by Asians, until Lee's performance on Tuesday.

The teenage skater was a sensation when he hit the media headlines for the first time in 2014. He became the youngest national squad member in a decade and swept the 1,500m titles at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games and the 2016 Junior World Championships. In his full senior season of 2016-2017, he started to show his potential as a world-class skater.

In the 2017 World Single Distances Championships, he finished fifth in the men's 1,500m event with a time of 1:46.05, just 0.55 seconds behind Dutchman Sven Kramer, who finished third. And he came to Pyeongchang for his first Olympics and a new star is born.