François-Louis Tremblay wins world title at short track speed skating world championships

François-Louis Tremblay of Boucherville, Que., and Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., formed an impenetrable wall to win gold and silver medals respectively on Saturday in the men’s 500-metres at the world championships in short track speed skating.

Tremblay clocked 42.106 seconds for the victory, his first individual world title and his second medal of the competition. On Friday he won silver in the 1,500. Hamelin was second in 42.135 and Hyun-Soo Ahn of South Korea was third in 42.185. World Cup champion Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., was eliminated in the semifinals for seventh overall.

“I’m just ecstatic with the win,” said Tremblay, who grabbed a permanent lead with two laps to go. “I feel like I’m on a roll right now and I’m very motivated for a big day of racing tomorrow. Charles and I capitalized on our excellent starting positions and pretty much controlled the race.”

The 20-year-old Hamelin continued his breakthrough season with his first career world championship medal.

“Finishing 1-2 is extraordinary,” said Hamelin, who posted three World Cup wins this season. “I had a great start to the race and made a lot of successful passes. At the end I was a lot more defensive in order to not jeopardize our medal chances. It’s not something we plan for, it’s an individual decision made during the race.”

After two of four distances, Tremblay leads the overall standings with 55 points, Ahn, seeking a third straight overall world crown, is second at 47 and Hamelin third at 26. Turcotte is eighth.

Tremblay, 24, was a member of the 2002 Olympic champion relay squad but had been mired in a slump since then until this February when he earned four medals at the final two World Cups.

“I could talk all day about why things have turned around for me,” said Tremblay. “But basically it’s a different outlook and I’m not so stressed about things on and off the ice.”

In the women’s 500, Olympic champion Yang Yang led China to a medal sweep with the gold in 45.038.Meng Wang was second in 45.129 and Tianyu Fu third in 45.232.

Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., was eliminated in the semifinals for seventh while Amanda Overland of Cambridge, Ont., and Kalyna Roberge of Levis, Que., were ousted in the quarterfinals for 10th and 12th respectively.

“The women’s field here is very deep and the semifinals seem like finals,” said Kraus, whose semifinal included Wang and world record holder Evgenia Radanova of Bulgaria. “I also had the worst starting position in my semi and I just wasn’t able to gain any ground on them. But we got our best races coming up and we really want to make some noise.”

In the overall standings, Wang, Yang and Sun-Yu Jin of South Korea are tied for first at 34 points. Kraus is ninth, Overland 10th and Roberge 16th.

In the men’s 5,000-mere relay, Canada won its heat with Tremblay, Turcotte, Eric Bedard of Ste-Thecle, Que., and Steve Robillard of Montreal. The Canadian women were second in their, 3,000 relay heat on Friday with Overland, Kraus, Roberge and Tania Vicent of Montreal.

Competition ends Sunday.