Zhurova crowned Olympic champion, Rempel 16th in 500m

Russian speed skater Svetlana Zhurova had no peer in winning Tuesday's women's 500 metres at the Torino Olympic Winter Games.

Zhurova, the reigning world sprint champion, won both legs in a combined time of 76.57 seconds, including a sizzling 38.23 in the opening round ? the fastest of the competition.

"That was a very good and fast race," she said.

Zhurova later went head-to-head against main rival Wang Manli of China, who trailed by only 8-100ths, but the Russian veteran won decisively.

"I was skating against Wang and not against the clock," she said. "But when I finished, I could not believe it."

It was a remarkable accomplishment for the 34-year-old because she stepped away from speed skating to have a child in 2003.

"She is phenomenal," said American Jennifer Rodriguez, who came 11th at Turin's Oval Lingotto.

"She took some time off and it took her a while to come around. She didn't really start skating well until January.

"It was always there for her. But she had to bring it back."

Wang Manli (76.78) retained the silver medal and Chinese teammate Ren Hui (76.87), the swiftest skater in the second session, claimed the bronze.

"I feel a little regret not to get the gold medal," Wang said. "Maybe Svetlana is stronger mentally than I am."

"She (Zhurova) was very good today," said Hui, who rose from fourth to third.

"Too good. But I also raced very well, the best I have ever done."

Current World Cup leader Jenny Wolf of Germany finished sixth with a cumulative time of 77.25, edging out yet another Chinese contender, Wang Beixing, by 2-100ths.

Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was 16th.

Rempel, a first-time Olympian but world junior champion in 2003, finished a combined 78.85 in her pairings with Amy Sannes of the United States.

Kerry Simpson of Melville, Sask., and Kristy Myers, from Lloydminster, Sask., ranked 21st and 22nd, espectively.

Regina's Kim Weger placed 26th in the field of 29 competitors.

Dutch veteran Marianne Timmer of the Netherlands, a two-time Olympic gold medallist over longer disciplines, was disqualified for a second false start, even though it appeared clean.

Timmer doffed her armband and glasses in dismay and circled the track sobbing.

"I would not know what was wrong with that," fumed Jac Orie, Timmer's coach. "It really stinks.

"She had a chance to medal. Especially if you look at the times."

Of note, CBC Sports speed skating analyst Catriona Le May Doan is both the world (74.72) and Olympic record (74.75) holder in the 500.

Source CBC Online with files from CP Online