Short track speed skater Samuel Girard confirmed his enormous potential by winning the gold medal in the 1,000 meters of the PyeongChang Olympics.
The fate was cruel for Charles Hamelin but benevolent for Samuel Girard.
Girard was advanced in the 1,000-meter final after what appeared to be a penalty against Hamelin and skater Ferland-et-Boilleau won gold on Saturday at the PyeongChang Olympics.
“It’s an emotion we can not really describe,” said Girard, who is 21 years old. When you crossed the finish line, it took four years of work and three races to get there. In speed skating, a lot of things can happen in a short time. I’m just happy to have achieved this feat, to live here with the crowd and my parents who are there.”
Girard flew over the final in one minute 24.650 seconds. American John-Henry Krueger won the silver medal while South Korean Yira Seo completed the podium.
The new Canadian sensation stayed at the front of the pack. Krueger and he avoided the fall of Hungarian Shaolin Sandor Liu, who took away Seo and his compatriot Hyojin Lim.
Girard raised his arms crossing the finish line and pointed his index fingers to the sky.
“I heard a big braking and a boom in the mattress told Girard about the fall behind him in the bend before the start of the last lap. I focused on my speed, my energy, until the end.
“To put me ahead, even if it requires a little more energy … it was the last race of the day and we went for a medal. In the end, I could not feel my legs even if they hurt.”
After the confirmation of the result, Girard hugged his coach Derrick Campbell before turning in the middle of the ice with his widest smile. He then went to join Hamelin, who congratulated him over the band.
“He would have liked to have this gold medal, but he’s glad it’s me going,” said Girard. It was a beautiful moment. It’s a little pass the torch, it’s a bit like the image.”
“Charles played a huge role with him,” said Campbell. He is one of the best in the world in this sport and he was the perfect mentor for Sam.”
Another disappointment for Hamelin
Girard was fourth in the 1,500 last Saturday, while Hamelin was penalized in the final.
Once again, Hamelin was disappointed with the premature conclusion of his semi-final work night.
“I hung with the American “Krueger” in the straight line. I lost my balance and took the big turn, said Hamelin, who is attending his fourth and final Games. I wanted to protect my place because I knew there was a chance that I would be passed by myself.
“There was Sam on one side and another skater tried to get inside at the same time. […] It’s flat because I had legs to do a lot better.”
Hamelin, 33, will not be able to add the Olympic title of 1000 m to his list, he who had already won gold in the 500 in Vancouver in 2010 and 1500 in Sochi in 2014.
“I realized it as soon as I saw the decision,” said skater Sainte-Julie. It was official. I certainly would have liked that, but I can not feel sorry for myself.”
Hamelin will still have two opportunities to redeem himself. He and Girard will compete in the 500m and 5000m relay on Thursday.
It will also be the last chance for Hamelin to match the Canadian mark of Marc Gagnon and Francois-Louis Tremblay in short track skating with five medals. If he managed to climb the podium twice, he would join Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes as the most decorated athletes in Canadian history at the Olympics.
And if Hamelin ever fails to leave PyeongChang with a medal, he can at least console himself by saying that the torch is in good hands.