Canadians win 2 short-track silvers

Francois-Louis Tremblay boosted Canada's medal count to 24 by stepping onto the short-track speedskating podium twice Saturday, and he was happy he could contribute.

He said he was dubious when he first heard months ago that the Canadian Olympic Committee was aiming for a third-place overall showing and 25 medals.

"Maybe that was a little bit high at the time, but there were so many good athletes out there, like Cindy Klassen, who did a lot for Canada," said Tremblay. "I'm glad I could help with my two."

The Boucherville Bomber was flying at the Palavela, where a near-capacity crowd of 6,300 waved flags and cheered its lungs out. Tremblay won silver in the 500-metre final and got another silver medal in the 5,000-metre relay. They'll look great alongside his 2002 Olympic gold in the relay.

"I have separate feelings about the medals," he said of their worth. "I have to thank my relay teammates who train with me all the time, but this one (in the solo race) feels really more intimate.

"This is my own medal and I'm really, really happy to have it. The other one feels just as great but it's different. It's a team medal. I'm happy with both, I guess."

He'll be winning many more medals on the way to the 2010 Vancouver Games.

"I'm having fun skating, and as long as I'm having fun I won't stop," said the 25-year-old Quebecer.

Tremblay's relay teammates were Eric Bedard, 29, of Ste-Thecle, Que., Jonathan Guilmette, 27, of Montreal, Mathieu Turcotte, 29, of Sherbrooke, Que., and Charles Hamelin, 21, of Levis, Que. All but Hamelin were on the victorious relay squad in Salt Lake City four years ago. Guilmette raced in the semifinals and was the spare Saturday.

Korea won in 6:43.376, an Olympic record. Canada finished in 6:43.707. Canada holds the world record of 6:39.990. Korean star Hyun-Soo Ahn won his third gold medal in the meet.

Tremblay was second to American Apolo Anton Ohno in the earlier 500-metres final. Ohno was timed in 41.93 seconds, and Tremblay was next across the line in 42.02. Tremblay is the reigning world champion at the distance.

Bedard just missed the 500 podium. He finished 4-100ths of a second behind Ahn, who added bronze to his collection.

The five relay racers now own a total of 14 Olympic medals. Bedard has four, giving him the distinction along with former teammate Marc Gagnon and long-traded speedskaters Gaetan Boucher and Cindy Klassen of being the only Canadians to win four or more Winter Games medals in their careers. Tremblay, Guilmette and Turcotte have three each, and Hamelin got his first.

Ahn passed Turcotte with 1_ laps to go in the 45-lap relay. Turcotte had got a good push from Bedard.

"My goal was to skate calmly but with the maximum speed I could," said Turcotte. "This is what I did, holding a drag protecting passes from the inside and passes from the outside.

"I didn't make any mistake. The only thing is, I didn't hear the Korean coming. The crowd was so loud. He had so much more speed than I did."

No regrets, he said.

"I'm proud of what I did individually and I'm very proud of what we did as a team. Of course, I wish we would have won the gold, but I'm very happy with the silver. This is a great day."

In all, Canada's short-track team produced four medal-winning performances in these Games.

"It's really hard," Tremblay replied when asked why the short-trackers have been so successful. "Just qualifying for the team is so hard.

"When you make top five (in Canada) you can be proud of yourself. Of course I'm happy to have a silver medal around my neck, but I was already happy just to make the team. There are so many good skaters in Canada."

Tremblay's only regret was that he did not win a medal in the 1,000 metres.

"The blades weren't gliding well at this time," he said. "The 500 was at the end of the meet and by then I had time to reset my blades and calm down and think about what I had to do. My blades only felt good until (Friday).

"But I'm satisfied with what I have right now."

Amanda Overland, 24, of Kitchener, Ont., and Tania Vicent, 30, of Laval, Que., just missed the A final in the women's 1,000. They'd won silver in the women's 3,000 relay earlier in the meet.

South Korea's Jin Sun-yu won the A final, finishing ahead of Wang Meng and Yang Yang, both of China.

Source: Canadian Press