Charles Hamelin wins gold in men’s 1500-metre Olympic short track event

WATCH: Charles Hamelin discusses winning gold, his motivation, Team Canada pride, and kissing his girlfriend after the race

Canadian Charles Hamelin has taken home the gold in the men’s 1500-metre short track speed skating event, defeating Tianyu Han of China and Victor An of Russia.

“Today was a wonderful day for me,” he told reporters in a press conference later.

Hamelin led from near the beginning of the race, slipping past his opponents to hold the lead most of the time. Hamelin got a time of 2:14.985, 70 milliseconds faster than second-place Han.

“In the final I had a plan with my coach, and I did apply that plan perfectly,” Hamelin said.

As Hamelin entered the final lap in the lead, his girlfriend and teammate Marianne St-Gelais couldn’t control her excitement, racing from her seat to the sidelines to give him a congratulatory hug. He later called her the “love of his life” at the press conference. St-Gelais is also speed-skating in Sochi.

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Hamelin tweeted in celebration shortly after the race.

This is the fourth Olympic medal for the short track star from Sainte-Julie, Quebec, who already has a silver and two golds in his name, from Turin and Vancouver. He brings home Canada’s fifth medal of the Sochi Olympics.

The 1500-metre has not historically been his strongest event. His previous medals were for relay races, and a gold in the 500-metre. Although he was not expected to win this event, “I really worked hard to prove wrong everyone,” he told CBC.

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He said in a press conference that he worked hard to be better in the 1500-metre after his disappointing seventh place finish in Vancouver. “It’s great to see that the work paid off,” he said.

He has been virtually unbeatable this season, winning six World Cup races.

Hamelin’s brother, François, did not qualify for the final. Neither did teammate Michael Gilday of Yellowknife.

In the women’s 500 preliminaries, St-Gelais, from Saint-Felicien, Que., Jessica Hewitt of Kamloops, B.C., and Valerie Maltais of La Baie, Que., all advanced from the heats.

St-Gelais, Hewitt, Maltais and Marie-Eve Drolet of Chicoutimi, Que., also advanced in the women’s 3,000-metre relay.

Hamelin will compete in three more events in Sochi: the 1000-metre, the 500-metre and the 5000-metre relay.

With files from the Canadian Press

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