Japan's Nana Tagaki & Korea's Lee Seung-Hoon claim first ever Olympic Mass Start titles

Tagaki and Seung-Hoon claim first ever Olympic Mass Start titles
By Reuters

24/02/2018 at 14:45Updated 24/02/2018 at 16:43

Japan's Nana Tagaki and Korea's Lee Seung-Hoon claimed the first ever Olympic Mass Start Speedskating titles in PyeongChang.

Takagi unleashed a late surge of explosive speed to pass Dutchwoman Irene Schouten on the inside of the final corner and claim an Olympic gold medal in the women's mass start at the Gangneung Oval on Saturday.

South Korean Kim Bo-reum slipped into the channel created by Takagi to win the silver medal 0.12 seconds behind the Japanese as Schouten settled for bronze.

Takagi, who won gold in the women's team pursuit earlier this week, now has an individual Olympic title to add to her collection.

The 25-year-old celebrated by pumping her fists and waving to the crowd before making a lap of the stadium with the Japanese flag fluttering above her head.

"I'm feeling very good," Takagi told reporters. "Only lost focus on two laps, then I showed good acceleration. Then with 100 metres –- go. I'm very happy. I focus on team pursuit and mass start."

In the following men's event, South Korean crowd favourite Lee Seung-hoon stormed to Olympic gold in the men's mass start race at the Gangneung Oval on Saturday with a perfectly timed breakaway on the final lap.

Lee finished 0.11 seconds ahead of Belgian Bart Swings in the final speed skating race of the Games, with Koen Verweij of the Netherlands winning the bronze medal.

Crossing the line, Lee celebrated with his arms raised, basking in the chants of the packed crowd inside the Oval. He took a slow lap of the track, with compatriot Chung Jae-won holding the newly crowned champion's arm aloft.

"I felt like crying," Lee said, before breaking into tears in the mixed zone. "It was so overwhelming and I've always dreamed of this moment of crossing the finish line first here at the Pyeongchang Olympics and in the mass start.

"I'm so happy that this became real."

His victory handed Korea a record 15th medal at their home Winter Olympics, one more than the previous record of 14 the country achieved at the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010.

The race made its Olympic debut in South Korea and was given a touch of celebrity by the presence of Ivanka Trump, daughter of the U.S. President.

The Mass Start race is a tactical encounter, with 16 skaters simultaneously vying for an advantage on the track.

The first three to finish the race earn 60, 40 and 20 points respectively, while the top three skaters in each of the intermediate sprints earn five, three and one points to decide the classification places.

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