Ohno DQ'd for contact as Hamelin wins

Updated: February 27, 2010, 11:46 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Apolo Anton Ohno was disqualified in the 500-meter short track speedskating final, apparently for causing a crash in the last turn.

Ohno crossed the finish line second behind Canada's Charles Hamelin, whose momentum spun him into the middle of the ice as the race ended.

Ohno was in last place when he tried to go inside of Canadian Francois-Louis Tremblay to move up on the final turn. The American's right leg appeared to hit Tremblay and sent him crashing into the padding.

[+] EnlargeApolo Anton Ohno
AP Photo/Amy SancettaApolo Anton Ohno was disqualified after crossing the finish line second. South Korea's Sung Si-bak slid across the line to earn the silver medal.

South Korea's Sung Si-bak also went down, although it appeared he lost his balance.

After several minutes of discussion, during which Ohno skated calmly around the ice, the referees DQ'd him. He threw up his arms as if to say, "What can you do?" and smiled before leaving.

Ohno said he didn't deserve to be disqualified, claiming that he put his right hand out merely to protect himself as he surged on Tremblay, looking to make the pass.

"There was no space between the skaters," Ohno said. "There was a fast pace from the beginning. I had so much speed that I put my hand up to not run into the Canadian before me. I guess the judge saw something I didn't.

"I thought I was going to be able to snag another silver," he said. "The referees didn't see it that way."

He did before the night was done.

Coming back for the 5,000 relay, he teamed with J.R. Celski, Travis Jayner and Jordan Malone to extend his own record for most decorated short track skater and U.S. Winter Olympian.

It also might have been the final Olympic race of Ohno's stellar career. He is contemplating retirement, although U.S. national coach Jimmy Jang is hoping to convince the 27-year-old skater from Seattle to compete in a fourth Olympics in 2014.

"I never say never," Ohno said. "I need a break from this sport that's been very good to me."

Ohno remade himself in the months leading up to the games, slimming down to 142 pounds -- 25 less than he weighed at his first Olympics in 2002.

"He's a very excellent athlete, exceptional in every way," China's Han Jialiang said.

Ohno had gotten by crashes in both of his previous heats to advance to the 500 final, which he won four years ago in Turin.

Sung slid across the line and wound up getting the silver. Tremblay was awarded the bronze after getting up to finish.

Hamelin came into the Vancouver Games as Canada's best hope for short track glory, but he had only finished fourth in the 1,000 and seventh in the 1,500 before winning the 500. Meanwhile, his girlfriend and teammate Marianne St-Gelais had won two silvers.

Most disappointing for Hamelin was the 1,000. He made it to the five-man final along with his little brother Francois, but they both missed out on a medal when Charles was fourth, his sibling last.

All that was forgotten in the frenetic 500 final -- basically an all-out sprint for 4½ laps around the hockey-sized rink as Hamelin's win gave Canada its first gold medal at the short track.

"It was a weird finish," Hamelin said, "but a good result." And a true family moment.

In addition to having his brother for a teammate, his father Yves is director of the Canadian short track program. And St-Gelais was there, too, cheering from the side of the rink.

"It was just amazing," said Hamelin, who hopped atop the padded boards to hug and kiss St-Gelais, cheering him on from the side of the rink.

"I am sure that everyone is going crazy right now," Hamelin said. "We will celebrate our moment."

Hamlin later led Canada to another gold medal in the 5,000 relay.

Winning the bronze medal in the 5,000 relay gave Ohno his eighth Olympic medal and his third in the Vancouver Games.

"This is very important for me," Ohno said, referring to his eighth medal. "I train with these guys year-round. They pour their heart and soul into this sport as well. I want to be able to share a medal with these guys and we did. We delivered."

Yves Hamelin, Canada's team leader, said he ranks Ohno among the top five best short track skaters, along with some of the South Koreans.

"He's one of the smartest racers," he said. "We have to really give a great respect to Apolo."

Lee Ho-suk, one of Ohno's longtime Korean rivals, said: "We have some good memories and we also have some bad memories of Ohno. I will be sorry to see him leave the world of short track when he does."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.