Wu Dajing was China’s lone gold medalist in PyeongChang, and the short track speed skater is only getting faster as the Beijing Winter Olympic cycle begins.
Wu lowered his world record in the 500m, the equivalent of track and field’s 100m, at a World Cup in Kearns, Utah, on Sunday. He clocked 39.505 seconds at the 2002 Olympic long-track venue, beating the 39.584 he set in the PyeongChang final.
“The ice here is very fast,” the 24-year-old Wu said, according to the International Skating Union. “A year’s training has gone into this world record.”
Wu merits comparisons to Usain Bolt. Not only for dominating his sport’s sprint, but also for his unusual height (5 feet, 11 inches, tall for a short tracker) and the likelihood that he will be a star at an Olympics in China. With his PyeongChang title, Wu also took 500m gold or silver at all four world championships in the last Olympic cycle.
In 2022, Beijing will become the first city to host both editions of the Olympics, 14 years after it held an iconic Summer Games with Bolt’s breakout.
Wu’s time on Sunday is equal to averaging 28.31 miles per hour, nearly five mph faster than Bolt’s average for his 100m world record of 9.58 seconds from 2009.
NBC Olympics analyst Apolo Ohno, an eight-time Olympic short track medalist, raved over Wu in PyeongChang, noting not only his unchallenged speed but also meticulous strategy. Wu became the first man to lead an Olympic 500m final from start to finish since Ohno at Torino 2006.
“It was a symphony of short track 500m specialty,” Ohno said of Wu’s 500m gold in February.
Only American J.R. Celski had broken 40 seconds in the 500m before Wu did it twice in one night in PyeongChang. In two World Cup stops this season, Wu broke 40 seconds in eight of 12 rounds of 500m events.
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