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Charles Hamelin, Marianne St-Gelais start strong at Canadian short track championships

Canadian short track stars Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais took gold in the men's and women's 1,500m events, respectively, at the national championships on Friday.

'I didn't panic,' Hamelin says

2016 Canadian Senior Short Track Championships 7:48

Charles Hamelin opened the 2016 Canadian senior short track championships by winning gold in the 1,500-metre event on Friday.

It's the second year in a row that the Sainte-Julie, Que., native has claimed top spot in the 1,500 after reaching the top of the podium in 2015.

Hamelin skated to a time of two minutes 18.065 seconds to finish ahead of Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que., (2:18.115) and Calgary's Sasha Fathoullin (2:18.282).

"In the final, I didn't panic even if, at a certain point, I was in fourth place," Hamelin said. "Even if the race was going at a fast pace, I stayed calm and I focused on overtaking when it was time to do it and I ended up in front with three laps to go."

"I stayed aware of what was going on around me in order to protect my first-place position, for instance against Samuel [Girard], who was so close I could feel his helmet on my hands behind my back."

The Canadian senior short track championships allow Canadian skaters to qualify for the upcoming senior world championships as well as for the two winter World Cup stages of the 2015-2016 season.

Marianne St-Gelais won the women's 1,500 in 2:43.539. Montreal's Namasthee Harris-Gauthier was second in 2:43.875 while Marie-Eve Drolet of Laterriere, Que., placed third in 2:44.005.

St-Gelais extended her dominating run at the national level this season with the victory.

At the Fall World Cup Selections in September, she swept all six events scheduled on the women's side. In addition, at last fall's World Cup stages, the Saint-Felicien, Que., native earned seven individual medals in eight events.

"My goal is not to remain unbeaten, and it's not to be beaten either. If I race well, that will lead me to victory but in the end, my goal is to be world champion and not Canadian champion," said St-Gelais.

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