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Lee Sang-Hwa, fastest female speed skater in history, retires

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Lee Sang-Hwa, a two-time Olympic 500m champion and the fastest woman ever in that sprint, has retired, according to South Korean media.

Lee, 30, had not competed on the World Cup since taking silver at the PyeongChang Olympics, where she was one of the host nation’s most high-profile athletes.

In fact, a pre-Games survey of 1,000 people by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism ranked Lee as the most anticipated South Korean athlete of the Olympics.

The self-described “Lego maniac” debuted at the Olympics in 2006 at age 16, then took 500m gold in 2010 and 2014. She also lowered the world record four times in 2013, bringing it to 36.36 seconds.

A right knee injury and the rise of Japan’s Nao Kodaira made Lee an underdog in PyeongChang. Indeed, Kodaira won in an Olympic and sea-level record 36.94 seconds, holding off Lee by .39.

“Actually, I felt pressure a bit to defend my title again,” Lee said after the race, according to Yonhap News Agency. “In the past, I was worried about falling from the top. But this time, she is the top dog, not me.

“Due to the knee injury, I had lost my sense of speed. It took a year and half to regain it. Finally, it’s over.”

A memorable moment occurred after when Kodaira put her arm around a tearful Lee, both skaters carrying the flags of their historically rival nations together in a show of unity.

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Two-time Olympic medalist Jennifer Rodriguez to be inducted into National Speed Skating Hall of Fame

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Jennifer Rodriguez, a four-time Olympian and two-time Olympic medalist, will be inducted to the National Speed Skating Hall of Fame, U.S. Speedskating announced Friday.

The ceremony will take place Friday, June 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Rodriguez made her Olympic debut at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, where she also became the first Cuban-Amerian to compete in the Games.

At the 2002 Olympics, Rodriguez skated to two bronze medals in the 1000m and 1500m. She went on to compete at two more Games in 2006 and 2010.

“Learning that I was being inducted to the Hall of Fame this year, literally brought tears to my eyes,” Rodriguez said through U.S. Speedskating. “I am so humbled and honored to be able to receive this recognition. So many people have contributed to my success over the years, and this is for them as well. Thank you so very much!”

Rodriguez was one of the first inline speed skating world medalists to transition to speed skating on ice. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of Miami with a degree in exercise physiology.

Additionally, Paul Marchese will be inducted into the National Speed Skating Hall of Fame as a Contributor to the Sport. Marchese skated for many years at the national level before beginning his coaching and technical career designing and building speed skates. As the U.S. technical coach in the 2002 and 2006 Olympic Winter Games, and private coach in the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Olympic Games, his technical innovations reshaped the speed skating landscape. Athletes equipped with Marchese skates have captured more than 130 Olympic medals over the past 30 years.

“I’m so very humbled to receive this honor,” Marchese said. “Speed skating has been a lifelong partner, providing so many opportunities that have defined my life and profession, and continues to bring my path across an incredible world of passionate people. I look forward to sharing an evening with my speed skating family and friends!”

MORE: Brittany Bowe sets world record in 1000m

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Brittany Bowe sets 1500m world record, gets broken minutes later

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KEARNS, Utah — Brittany Bowset her second world record in as many days on Sunday at the Utah Olympic Oval during the first day of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Finals. The top 12 skaters in the world in each distance compete for the title. Full results are here.

The two-time Olympian and Olympic medalist broke the 1500m world record with a time of 1:50.327. However, it didn’t last long, as Japanese skater Miho Takagi skated 1:49.839 just minutes later for a new world record and the gold medal. Bowe secured the silver medal and the Overall World Cup title in the 1500m.

On Saturday, Bowe set the world record in the 1000m.

Bowe also skated in the 500m (2) on Sunday, where she finished sixth with a time of 37.126 to end the season fifth overall in the standings.

“I was happy and optimistic, but I didn’t think [the world record] would hold,” Bowe said through U.S. Speedskating. “I’m really pleased with myself and the other ladies. They’ve done an incredible job this year and raised the bar, so I couldn’t be more pleased with the season. I’m definitely ready for vacation, then back at it in a couple of months.”

Bowe’s World Cup medal count stands at 14, including six golds. She called this year the best season she’s had so far.

“Coming back off the injury, it’s taken me two full years to come back and having results builds your confidence, and not having results for a year and a half it gets a little bit old,” she said. “You don’t know if you’ll ever have it back or did you miss your prime, but the skating shows for itself and the times show I’m better than ever.”

Two-time Olympian Joey Mantia skated to an eighth place finish in the 1500m with a time of 1:42.924, and finished fifth place overall in the World Cup final standings in the distance. The Netherlands’ Kjeld Nuis set a world record in the 1500m with a time of 1:40.176. He set the world record in the 1000m on Saturday.

“I’m really happy with my 1000, getting a personal best for the first time in years, it was really nice,” said Mantia. “I think finishing off this season gives me some perspective of what to work on next year. I’m really optimistic going into next season. If I can stay healthy and keep my body good, I’ll just keep getting stronger.”

MORE: Brittany Bowe wins overall bronze at the World Sprint Championships

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