Olympic gold medalist Shaoang Liu won his first world title in speed skating at the men’s 500-meter final of the 2021 Short Track Speed Skating World Championships in Dordrecht, Netherlands on Saturday. He followed his brother Shaolin Sándor in the men’s 1000 meter on Sunday as well, where the two finished first and second.
Representing Hungary, the 22-year-old Shaoang sped in first with a time of 40.524 seconds, followed by Semen Elistratov (40.524 seconds) from Russia and Pietro Sighel (40,673 seconds) from Italy.
Starting in the first position after achieving the best time in the semi-finals, Liu was able to maintain the lead throughout the fast-paced race that brought him his first gold in 500 meter skating.
In an interview with the Hungarian Skating Federation, Liu said “I woke up Saturday morning knowing that I am going to be a world champion.”
Regarding 500-meter skating, he said that the previous records in the tournament are particularly important, since they determine the skaters’ starting positions.
Liu said that compared to his performance at the European championship in Gdansk, he felt that his skating was more relaxed.
He knew that his Russian opponent had a worse starting position than he did, which he took advantage of by pushing for a strong lead at the beginning of the race which he could maintain until the finish line. Liu said his brother Shaolin’s advice from the sidelines to stay relaxed also came as helpful aid.
Shaoang Liu is Hungary’s second world champion in short track skating. His older brother, 25-year-old Shaolin Sándor Liu was first to the title in 2016, winning the 500m short track world championship in Seoul.
The two brothers also made history in Hungarian speed skating by finishing at the top of the men’s 1000 meter the next day. Shaolin Sándor came in first with a time of 1 minute 25.901 seconds, followed by Shaoang, who skated the distance in 1 minute 26 seconds.
The win shows an exceptional recovery for Shaolin, who tested positive for the coronavirus back in September. A minor setback, the illness clearly could not stop his success in Dordrecht.
Team Hungary brought home three gold and three silver medals from the Dordrecht championship.
Featured photo illustration by Tibor Illyés/MTI