Lee Sang-hwa Earns Korea's First Gold, Sets Olympic Record

Speed skater Lee Sang-hwa, who has proven unbeatable this season at her signature event, defended her title in the women's 500 m on Tuesday at the Sochi Olympics.

Lee became the first Korean to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in the sport. Her medal also marked Korea's first gold in Sochi, five days after the Winter Games kicked off.

Lee sealed her victory with a combined time of 74.70 seconds in her two final races at the Adler Arena Skating Center, well ahead of runner-up Olga Fatkulina of Russia, who clocked 75.06 seconds, and bronze medalist Margot Boer of the Netherlands, who finished the race in 75.48 seconds.

The 500 m is the only speed skating event in which skaters run two races and the results are combined.

Lee Sang-hwa celebrates after setting a new Olympic record in the womens 500-m speed skating at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on Tuesday in Sochi, Russia. /Newsis Lee Sang-hwa celebrates after setting a new Olympic record in the women's 500-m speed skating at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on Tuesday in Sochi, Russia. /Newsis

Lee started in the outer course in the first race and completed it in the fastest time of 37.42 seconds. In the second race, in which she began in the inner course, a strong start saw her wrap things up in 37.28 seconds, breaking the Olympic record of 37.30 set by Catriona Le May Doan at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

However, she did not come close to breaking her own world record of 36.36, which she set in Salt Lake City last November during the second World Cup event of the season. The conditions of the ice and the arena in general were not considered optimal for such a feat.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 12, 2014 09:17 KST