Russian short-track skater in message to rivals after Olympic bronze
Former Olympic champion Semion Elistratov confirmed his status as one of the world’s top short-track skaters by finishing third in the men’s 1500m final in Beijing on Wednesday – and the Russian Olympic Committee star spoke of his love for his fellow competitors afterwards.
The 31-year-old recovered from dramatic disappointment in the men’s 1000m and relay races, in which he failed to reach the finals, by adding yet another Olympic medal to his collection.
Elistratov had brilliantly entered the leading group right from the start to boost his medal chances in an overcrowded final, which had 10 participants approved by the judges.
The Russian athlete didn’t squander his advantage and crossed the finish line in the top three. Gold in the event was taken by South Korean star Hwang Daeheon, while silver went to Steven Dubois of Canada.
Elistratov repeated the success he envoyed in South Korea four years ago, when he also grabbed bronze in the same event. He previously won an Olympic gold medal at the 2014 Games in the men’s 5,000m relay race.
“Thanks to each other we are growing and our sport is developing," the 14-time European champion told his rivals afterwards, via Championat.
"Guys, I love you. Some of you are first today, some are second, some are third – it doesn't matter.
"For me, this is the fourth Olympics, and I am back on the podium. I thank everyone who is rooting for me, I thank the country and the IOC [International Olympic Committee] for hosting the Olympics in 2022.
"If they were postponed for a year, I don’t know if I would be here now. Would I have ended my career if the Games were postponed for a year? I don't know, but sometimes [time decides]."
The Ufa-born star said his biggest motivation remained his sporting ambitions as a five-year-old.
"No-one has ever forced me – I made my own choice and I am responsible for my results and actions," he added.
"Today I am happy to be on the podium among the strongest athletes in the world. I am glad that today I was once again able to realize my childhood dream."
The Winter Olympics continue until February 20 2022.