Wu Dajing

Wu Dajing, world’s fastest short track speed skater, lowers his world record

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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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MORE: J.R. Celski details retirement from short track

J.R. Celski wins 500m silver at World Championships after brush with Viktor Ahn

J.R. Celski
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Three-time Olympic medalist J.R. Celski won his first World Championships medal since 2010, taking silver in the 500m in Montreal on Saturday.

Celski, the 500m world record holder, was in an elite four-man battle in the final of the shortest and most physical short track race. He lined up with 2014 Olympic gold and silver medalists Viktor Ahn and Wu Dajing and 2010 Olympic champion Charles Hamelin.

Wu had the lead on the final lap, ahead of Celski, when the eight-time Olympic medalist Ahn tried to pass Celski on the inside. Celski held his ground, and the Russian and American bumped.

Celski got the better of the contact and held on for silver, .056 of a second behind Wu. Ahn fell to fourth, behind Hamelin, who had won the 1500m on Friday.

Celski, 23, won his ninth career World Championships medal and sixth in an individual race. He skipped the 2011 and 2012 World Championships and did not win any medals in 2013.

South Korean Park Seung-Hi won the women’s 500m in 42.792, edging Great Britain’s Elise Christie. Park added gold to her 1500m bronze from Friday. The top American was Jessica Smith, who bowed out in the quarterfinals.

The World Short Track Championships conclude with the 1000m, 3000m and men’s and women’s relays Sunday.

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