Men's short track

Ohno looks to finish on top

Winter Olympics

February 23, 2006|By ALAN ABRAHAMSON | ALAN ABRAHAMSON,LOS ANGELES TIMES

TURIN, Italy -- Short-track speed skater Apolo Ohno cruised through his heat and into the quarterfinals of the 500-meter sprint, then sounded melancholy last night about the end of the Winter Games drawing near, perhaps the end of his Olympic racing career as well.

Ohno, the 23-year-old from Seattle who won gold and silver at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City and who picked up a third Olympic medal here, a bronze, in the 1,000 meters, said after racing yesterday, "It's my last week of the Games. Basically, I just want to enjoy every single race I have. I don't know. It's been a long time since I've enjoyed 500s like that. This is unbelievable, this experience. My second Olympics -- came through again, I was able to get on the podium. Very happy. Very happy."

Told as he talked to reporters that his comments sounded wistful and asked if this were indeed his last Olympics, he said, "I don't know This is my last week. That's how I'm thinking of it. But I don't know. I love sports so much, everything about them, especially amateur sports. But I don't know. I don't know. I'm only focused on this last week."

Asked when he would decide if he would resume a racing career that has made him the soul-patched, bandana-wearing American face of short-track speed skating, he said, "Probably the next couple months."

Ohno has two more medal chances here -- the 500 and the 5,000 relay, both Saturday. He said he felt "very confident" in the 500, winning his heat in 42.836 seconds.

Also moving on to the quarterfinals were South Koreans Ahn Hyun-soo and Lee Ho-suk. Ahn and Lee went 1-2 in both the men's 1,500 and 1,000 in Turin.

The other U.S. skater in yesterday 500 quarterfinal, Anthony Lobello, 21, of Tallahassee, Fla., did not advance, falling in his heat and blaming it afterward on a chunk of ice that gave way underneath.

In the only medal event of the evening at the Palavela, South Korea won the women's 3,000-meter relay in 4:18.740. Canada took silver, and Italy was third. The U.S. team finished fourth.

Alan Abrahamson writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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