Charles Hamelin won his fourth Olympic medal Monday morning by winning the on-ice roller derby known as short-track speed skating. Hamelin took the 1,500 metres in a race that he led for all but one lap.
"It's the best I can dream of, coming into the Olympics and having that gold medal in the 1,500-metres," Hamelin said after the race.
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It was Hamelin's first of four tries for medals here in Sochi and he looked to be in control right from the start, if such a thing is possible in this wild and crazy sport.
He wasn't unnerved when the gold-medal final was delayed because of the inevitable judges' review of the B final, in which brother Francois placed second after a crash wiped out two competitors.
Hamelin had the inside lane to start the championship final and jumped out to the lead. He dropped to third six laps into the 13-lap race, but reclaimed it a lap later when he took an outside angle and zipped inside ahead of two skaters. After that, he was never in any danger and won by a relatively comfortable .7 seconds.
Channelling his inner Usain Bolt, Hamelin raised both index fingers as he crossed the line ahead of China's Tianyu Han and Victor Han of Russia. You could say he won it Hans down.
Hamelin then hugged his coach, grabbed a Canadian flag and skated over to girlfriend Marianne St-Gelais, reprising their passionate kiss after he won gold in Vancouver four years ago.
"It's not my best distance, but I had a really good start and was able to control the race afterwards," he said. "I am looking forward to continue that strong this week.
"Of course I want to be on the podium again. But this is short track and it's a tough sport."
Hamelin was prepared for the win, tweeting this photo mere moments after the race ended:
With the gold medal, Hamelin ties the Canadian record for gold won at the Olympic Winter Games with three (equalling Marc Gagnon, Hayley Wickenheiser, Becky Kellar, Jayna Hefford, Jennifer Botterill)
The victory puts Hamelin in select company. He is only the fourth athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in three different short-track events. He previously won golds in the 500-metres and 5,000-metres relay.
His four Olympic medals ties him with Éric Bedard and Gaétan Boucher for second on the all-time list of Canadian male Winter Olympic medallists behind Marc Gagnon and François-Louis Tremblay, who each have five.
Canada’s only previous medal in the men’s 1500m was Marc Gagnon’s bronze at Salt Lake City in 2002.
Gold wasn't really expected from the 29-year-old native of St-Julie, Que., as the 1,500 is not his best event. He’s the defending champion in the 500 metres and the 5,000-metre relay.
"We always said that in the last few years that it's a weakness," Hamelin said. "But I really worked hard to prove everyone wrong."