Charles Hamelin to end illustrious Olympic career in short track relay final

The Canadian men's relay team will give five-time Olympian Charles Hamelin one last shot at a medal in Beijing after winning its 5,000-metre semifinal on Friday. The final is scheduled for Wednesday at 7:44 a.m. ET.

Will try to tie long tracker Klassen for all-time Canadian Winter Games medal record

Steven Dubois, left, and Charles Hamelin, right, celebrate after helping Canada to victory in their 5,000-metre relay semifinal on Friday at the Beijing Olympics. Hamelin, who put off retirement until after the Games, will have a chance to tie for the all-time lead in medals by a Canadian Winter Olympian on Feb. 16. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Charles Hamelin will have a chance to end his Olympic career in Beijing with six medals and a share of the all-time Canadian Winter Games record.

Hamelin and his men's relay teammates won their 5,000-metre semifinal in six minutes 38.752 seconds on Friday, qualifying third overall for the Feb. 16 medal race at Capital Indoor Stadium.

"I want to come back [home] from Beijing with a big smile on my face and happiness in my heart," the 37-year-old told Jacqueline Doorey of CBC Sports before the Olympics. "With that feeling and that mindset, I'll bring back some memories and some souvenirs."

The native of Sainte-Julie, Que., remembered returning from the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea with a "sad feeling" despite earning relay bronze in the 5,000.

WATCH | Hamelin helps Canada secure berth in 5,000m relay final:

Hamelin to go for one last medal as Canada qualifies for 5,000m relay final

10 months ago
Duration 7:04
Charles Hamelin will race for a sixth-career medal at the Olympics when the Canadian men's relay team competes in the 5,000m final.

Now, Hamelin, who carried the Canadian flag into the opening ceremony in China with women's hockey star Marie-Philip Poulin, will get an opportunity to leave his fifth Olympics on a positive note and tie long track speed skater Cindy Klassen for the Canadian medal mark. Ice dancer Scott Moir and former short trackers Francois-Louis Tremblay and Marc Gagnon are also five-time Olympic medallists.

It is special to be on the team with someone like him. He's a legendary skater.— Canada's Pascal Dion on short track relay teammate Charles Hamelin

"I'll do my job to win it, and I'm sure [my teammates] will do the same," Hamelin told The Canadian Press. "We win as a team. We're ready."

Pascal Dion noted the group, which also includes Steven Dubois, Maxime Laoun and alternate Jordan Pierre-Gilles, is motivated to get Hamelin on the podium.

"It is special to be on the team with someone like him," Dion told Postmedia recently. "He's a legendary skater. He's been so good for so many years and the sport has changed so much and he always adapted.

"We all want to win so bad. It's not for Charles that we do it, but it would be nice to be part of the team that made him the most decorated guy in Canada."

Nervous moment

With a victory next week, Hamelin would tie women's hockey players Hayley Wickenheiser, Caroline Ouellette and Jayna Hefford for the most gold performances by a Canadian at either the Summer or Winter Games. He has raced on the World Cup tour since 2004 and is also a 14-time world champion, most recently last year in the 1,500.

On Friday, he was forced to wait a few minutes for the official result after Dubois crossed the finish line first ahead of the Italians. Video review determined Canada was not at fault when Dion's left skate made contact with the right skate of a Chinese opponent, causing him to fall out of the race with 11 laps remaining. Officials also advanced the Chinese team to make it a five-team final.

"The Chinese kid tried to pass me," Dion told CP. "I just kept my speed, and if he was going to pass me, I would try to make Charles pass on the exchange, but we just had contact with [our] blades. It happens sometimes. There's [no reason for] disqualification."

WATCH | Hamelin wants to leave Beijing 'with big smile on my face':

Charles Hamelin skates to his final chapter

10 months ago
Duration 3:00
One of Canada's most prolific speed skaters talks to CBC Sports about going to his 5th Olympics and his decision to postpone retiring until after Beijing 2022.

Dubois, the first-time Olympian from Terrebonne, Que., might be Hamelin's successor on the Canadian squad. The 24-year-old took silver in the men's 1,500 on Wednesday and was part of the Canadian team to place fourth in mixed relay last Saturday.

The 15th-ranked Dubois arrived in Beijing coming off his first individual medal of the season with silver in the 500 to wrap up the World Cup season in Dordrecht, Netherlands. He was fourth in the 1,500 at the 2019 world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, and the following year picked up silver in a triple-medal effort at the Four Continents championships in Montreal.

South Korea was the top qualifier for the final, stopping the clock in 6:37.879, followed by the Russia Olympic Committee (6:37.925). There will not be a repeat champion for the first time since Canada achieved the feat 20 years ago in Salt Lake City after Hungary, the world record holder, was eliminated on Friday.

WATCH | Dubois captures 1,500-metre silver in Olympic debut:

Canada's Dubois holds on for 1,500m short track silver

10 months ago
Duration 5:14
Steven Dubois made his move mid way through the race and then finished strong to claim silver in the men's 1,500m short track speed skating event.

Also Friday, Canada's Courtney Sarault and Alyson Charles had their medal hopes in the women's 1,000 dashed in the quarter-finals while Dubois and Pierre-Gilles have advanced to Sunday's semifinals in the 500. Laoun, from Montreal, is out of the competition after he went down unimpeded in his quarter-final heat.

Sarault, 21, stopped the clock in 1:29.450 to fall 664-1000ths of a second behind Hungary's Petra Jaszapati (1:28.786) for the final semifinal berth. The 2021 world bronze medallist ranked fifth in the world entering the competition.

"It's not like me," Sarault said. "I couldn't believe my result."

Dutchwoman sets world record, lowers Olympic mark

Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands retained her Olympic title, clocking 1:28.391 after shattering the world record and lowering her Games mark earlier Friday in the quarter-finals. Schulting's 1:26.514 performance topped the old world mark of 1:26.661 by South Korea's Shim Suk-hee from Oct. 21, 2021 in Calgary.

"I skated a world record and I was really excited," Schulting told The Associated Press. "And I said, 'Oh [damn], I still have to do the semis and then we have the finals.' I became really confident out there."

Schulting, also the reigning world champion, previously set the Olympic record in her 1,000 heat race on Wednesday, four days after posting a Games mark in the 500 heats.

Choi Min-Jeong of South Korea, who held the Olympic record in the 1,000 for a matter of minutes on Wednesday, grabbed silver on Friday — crying on the side of the rink after the race — while Hanne Desmet of Belgium rounded out the medal podium.

Italy's Arianna Fontana, who was chasing an 11th career Olympic medal after earning two earlier at these Games, was penalized for a lane change that caused contact with American Kristen Santos, who placed fourth. Both skaters went down and slid on their sides into the padding.

No American has ever won Olympic gold in the women's 1,000, with Katherine Reutter-Adamek the lone medallist with her 2010 silver.

In the men's 500, Wu Dajing of China opened defence of his Olympic title by advancing to the quarter-finals on Sunday at 6 a.m. ET. Teammate Ren Ziwei, the 1,000 champion in Beijing, also moved on.

Dubois won his heat in 40.399 seconds ahead of ROC's Pavel Sitnikov (40.591). The Canadian won silver in the 500 for his first individual medal of the season at the World Cup finale in November.

Pierre-Gilles completed 4 ½ laps in 40.488 on Friday to qualify second in his heat. On Monday, the 23-year-old from Sherbrooke, Que., was penalized in the 1,000 and knocked out of the competition.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

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