RICHMOND, British Columbia (AP) — Shani Davis kicked hard in the final lap to retain his Olympic men’s 1,000-meter Olympic speedskating title Wednesday at the Richmond Oval.
Mo Tae-bum of South Korea, who won gold in the 500, took the silver, 18-hundreths behind Davis’ winning time of 1 minute, 8.94 seconds. Davis’ American teammate Chad Hedrick won the bronze.
Davis defended the title he won four years ago in Turin, where he became the first African-American to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Games.
“When you’re a world champion or an Olympic champion, you get this little thing on your back called a target,” said Davis, the first male skater to win this event a second time at the Winter Games. “To go out there and win the 1,000 meters twice is truly amazing.”
Davis swung both arms twice on the final straight, knowing he needed a little more speed to beat Mo’s time.
“Those last 200, 300 meters were very difficult,” Davis said. “I was just trying to carry my speed. I could feel it leaving me. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, just as long as you get across the line as quick as you could.”
Davis pumped his fist in the air and slapped hands with the U.S. coaches. Then, as he coasted around near the finish line, Hedrick came over to shake his hand and pat him on the back.
Four years ago, their accomplishments in Italy — Davis won a gold and a silver, Hedrick a medal of each color — were overshadowed by a nasty feud stemming from the team pursuit.
Davis wanted to stick with his individual events, a decision that peeved Hedrick, who believed it cost the Americans a shot at a likely medal in the team race.
Their animosity boiled over at a news conference after the 1,500, in which Davis finished second and Hedrick third. Hedrick again complained about the team pursuit, and Davis stormed out of the interview room complaining that Hedrick didn’t congratulate him on his gold, only the silver.
There were no hard feelings this time. The two stood together on the flower stand, each holding one end of an American flag.
“Everything that Shani and I had in 2006 is behind us now,” Hedrick said. “We’re here, we’re proud to represent our country, we’re proud to put a few more medals on the table of the Americans.”
Mo held up two fingers, representing both his finish and his total haul from these games. South Korea extended its impressive showing at the Richmond Olympic Oval, having won two golds and two silvers in the first five events.
“I could have done better,” Mo said through a translator. “Shani had the greater technique in turning the corners.”
Skating in the same pair with Mo, Hedrick nearly clipped a lane marker in the first turn and appeared to lose some valuable time, but he has always been a strong finisher and nearly caught the fading Korean at the line.
Hedrick’s strong showing came after he struggled for motivation following Turin.
“I had to dig down deep and find my passion for speedskating again,” he said.
Thirty-one-year-old Lee Kyou-hyuk of South Korea, skating in his fifth Olympics, again failed to make the medal podium. He was ninth in 1:09.92.
Davis said he is enjoying these Olympics more than his last two. He was accused of benefiting from a fixed race to get on the short track team as an alternate in 2002, and the dispute with Hedrick marred Turin.
“I’ve learned not to pay attention to things that are negative and focus on the things that matter,” Davis said. “For the most part, it’s been really good. It’s a different type of energy now. People want me to win, whereas maybe before they didn’t.”