Saturday, February 16, 2002 Updated: February 17, 2:04 PM ET
Ohno crashes yards from finish line
ESPN.com news services
SALT LAKE CITY -- Apolo Anton Ohno was one turn away from
his first Olympic gold medal when, suddenly, he found himself
sliding back-first into the boards, his left leg sliced open.
Race over? No way.
He bounced back with a desperate lunge, crawling on his hands
and knees the last few yards and finally swinging his injured leg
over the finish line.
Apolo Anton Ohno received six stitches in his left thigh after crashing Saturday.
A golden moment on a night he claimed silver in the 1,000 meters
"I never, ever, ever take a race for granted until I cross the
finish line," Ohno said. "I was in a daze. It happened so quick.
I just wanted to finish."
Ohno was leading when a crash -- which didn't appear to be his
fault -- took out the 19-year-old American and three other skaters.
Ohno landed on his back and spun to the side of the track, his
helmeted head ricocheting off the padding. The gash in his leg was
probably caused by his own razor-sharp skates as his body spun out
Even so, Ohno staggered to his feet and stumbled the final 10
yards to the line, claiming silver after Australia's Steven
Bradbury, who had been in last place, coasted across the line as
the lucky winner.
Canada's Mathieu Turcotte, also taken out in the crash, got up
in time to claim the bronze.
"I could feel the wind at the my fingers and the next thing I
know, I'm in the boards," Ohno said.
Amazingly, he had no complaints about his misfortune. No wonder
the mantra for this crazy sport is, "That's short track."
Ohno needed six stitches in his inner left thigh, and USOC physician for speedskating Rudy Bosters said Ohno's cut was three centimeters long. The injury was a surface laceration, but there was no damage to the muscle.
Ohno said he should
be able to compete in his other three Olympic races, beginning
Wednesday. If healthy, he would be among the favorites in all
"I thought it was one of the best efforts of my life," Ohno
said. "I was definitely very happy with my performance, regardless
of what medal I have.
"I'm just lucky the injury is not more severe."
Bradbury earned Australia's first Winter Olympics gold medal
ever, taking advantage of the quirkiest sport in the games. He
reached the final only because another skater was disqualified in
In the last race, Bradbury was the only skater standing after
the crash took out his four competitors.
"Maybe I'm not the most deserving guy, but I got the gold and
I'm stoked about it," Bradbury said. "I thought maybe two would
go down and I'd get the bronze. Then I saw them all go down and,
`Oh, my God."'
The sellout crowd of more than 15,424 booed loudly when Bradbury
was shown as the winner. One skater, China's Li Jiajun, was
disqualified but officials allowed the other results to stand.
Ohno won't win four gold medals, but his gutsy move at the end
will most likely stand as one of the signature moments of these
"My quest, my journey, is not about winning four golds," Ohno
said. "It's about coming to the Olympics."
The teen-ager from Seattle made an outside pass for the lead
with two laps to go and was still in front heading to the final
turn, the crowd deafening as they sensed a chance to watch him win
the first of his Olympic medals.
That's when everything fell apart.
Li tried to pass on the outside, jostling with Ohno as both
skaters fought for position. Li slipped out of the race about the
same time Ahn Hyun-soo moved inside of Ohno.
It was a brazen move by the 16-year-old South Korean,
considering there was hardly any room to pass. Not surprisingly, it
sent bodies flying in all directions.
Ahn went down and took out Ohno and Turcotte. The American did a
360-degree spin and slammed into the boards.
Bradbury, who was far behind the other four skaters in the
final, simply glided across the line. He threw up his arms and
smiled in disbelief.
Even after the gold medal was draped around his neck, Bradbury
was still shaking his head and smiling sheepishly.
The Australian makes speedskating boots on the side. In fact,
Ohno is his best customer, so Bradbury sent an e-mail Friday asking
Ohno to give the company a plug if he won the gold medal.
"I guess I don't need him to do that now," Bradbury quipped.
In the night's other final, Yang Yang (A) won China's first
Winter Olympic gold medal in the women's 500. Evgenia Radanova of
Bulgaria took the silver and Wang Chunlu of Chino claimed the
Yang and Wang carried a Chinese flag around the rink and broke
down in tears as they hugged their coach.
"In China, they're still celebrating the Chinese New Year,"
Wang said. "So these medals can be the best gifts from us to the
Caroline Hallisey, of Natick, Mass., made it into 500 final with
a couple of thrilling comebacks and a photo finish. But she
finished last out of five skaters in the medal race.
Meanwhile, the Olympic career of Amy Peterson came to an end.
Peterson, a five-time Olympian who won a silver at the 1992
Albertville Games and two bronzes at Lillehammer in '94, was part
of the American 3,000 relay team that fell in the semifinals and
finished far back.
She made it through the heats of 500 but finished a distant
third in the quarterfinals, crossing the line with her hands on her
Still, it was a memorable games for the 30-year-old Peterson,
who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome. She carried the American
flag in the opening ceremony.
"I never imagined I'd be racing in my fifth Olympics,"
On this night, everyone came to see Ohno, who won his
quarterfinal and semifinal races.
His most brilliant move came in the quarters, when the teen-ager
nicknamed "Chunky" somehow squeezed between Bradbury and Marc
Gagnon of Canada.
Ohno pulled away from the other three skaters, looking back
derisively over his shoulder as he crossed the finish line all
Someone held up a sign, "Go Chunky! Apolo is Phat."
Ohno didn't have to face the defending Olympic and World Cup
champion in the final. Kim Dong-sung of South Korea fell on the
final lap and was eliminated.