Ohno wins his eighth career medal

Updated: February 27, 2010, 11:51 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Canada has claimed its second gold medal in short track, winning the men's 5,000-meter relay.

Charles Hamelin got the night started right for the home team with a victory in the 500, then joined brother Francois Hamelin, Olivier Jean and Francois-Louis Tremblay to lead the Canadians to another gold in the final event of short track.

"I cannot ask for anything better," Hamelin said. "I planned to come home with an individual and a relay medal. Now to have them both be gold is better than I could have asked for."

On the medal stand, the Hamelin brothers stood side by side, each receiving a gold.

"To do it with my brother in the relay is incredible," Charles said.

[+] EnlargeCanada
John David Mercer/US PresswireCharles Hamelin joined brother Francois Hamelin, Olivier Jean and Francois-Louis Tremblay to bring Canada its second short track gold medal.

Added their proud father, "It is incredible. Like a bedtime story."

The South Korean team of Kwak Yoon-gy, Lee Ho-suk, Lee Jung-su and Sung Si-bak held on for silver. Kwak got to the line just ahead of American Apolo Anton Ohno, who slipped inside for the bronze when China's skater went wide coming off the final turn.

"It was crazy out there and I don't even know if it was a race anymore, a roller derby," U.S. speedskater Jordan Malone said. "But that's what the short-track relay has become in the past 10 years, so it was really great to just be able to stay out of trouble and bring it home."

It was Ohno's third medal of these games, to go with a silver and another bronze that made him America's most decorated Winter Olympian. He already has the most short track medals of any skater.

The 45-lap relay ended a wild final night of short track, marked by crashes, disqualifications and capricious skating.

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.

"Apolo is an incredible athlete," U.S. teammate Katherine Reutter said. "He works harder than anyone I know."

"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."

Ohno slapped hands and exchanged hugs with teammates J.R. Celski, Travis Jayner and Malone. He waved to the crowd before skating to the boards and hugging an ecstatic Jang, a longtime friend.

"It's great, it's great to be a part of his history," Malone said.

Ohno then skated over to congratulate the Canadians, nearly stepping on their Maple Leaf flag. He also shook hands with his South Korean rivals.

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

On the podium, a roar went up as Ohno's name was announced and the medal slipped over his slicked-back hair. He held up his bronze in one hand and waved his bouquet in the other.

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 medal salvaged the night for Ohno after he was disqualified in the 500, apparently for causing a crash in the final turn. He crossed the finish line second behind Canada's Charles Hamelin, whose momentum spun him into the middle of the ice as the race ended.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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