From Kazakhstan Encyclopedia
Template:About Template:Korean name Template:Infobox speed skater Lee Sang-hwa (Korean: 이상화, Hanja: 李相花, Template:IPA-ko; born 25 February 1989) is a South Korean speed skater who specialises in the sprint distances. She is a two-time Olympic champion in 500 metres (2010 and 2014) and the 2010 World Sprint champion. She is the current world record holder in women's 500 metres with the time of 36.36 seconds set in Salt Lake City on 16 November 2013, and also holds the South Korean record on 1000 metres. She has also won three World Championships medals in 500 metres, and has placed in the top three in World Cup events four times in this distance. Her first World Cup victory, however, came on the non-Olympic distance 100 metres. On the 1000 metres, however, she has never placed higher than fifth in international events (2010 World Sprint Championships, first 1000 metres).
Early life and education
Lee Sang-hwa was born in 1989 to Lee U-geun (father), a technician at Hwigyeong Girls' School, and Kim In-sun (mother). Lee has an older brother, Lee Sang-jun, who used to be a skater, too. Influenced by her brother, she started skating when she was in first grade at Eunseok Elementary School. Although her brother excelled at skating, and won a skating competition held in his elementary school, Lee appeared to have more talent for skating than him. Since their parents could not afford to support the extra activity of both children, only she continued skating.
Lee is remembered by her school teachers as a smart and active student.Template:Citation needed Lee and Mo Tae-bum, gold medalist at Vancouver 2010, are close friends since their elementary school period. Along with him, Lee is currently attending Korea National Sport University.
Template:BLP sources section Lee first competed internationally aged 14 in Canada, where she skated several test races in October 2003, winning comfortably and skating with a best time of 39.02 seconds. At the time, the U19 world record was 38.53. Her first ISU championship was in Roseville, Minnesota, during the 2004 World Junior Championships. As the youngest participant, she finished 16th, though she took third place on the 500 metres, 0.45 seconds behind world junior record holder Shannon Rempel.
The following season, she raced 38.77 in test races in Calgary, and was selected for the World Cup races in Nagano, Harbin and Calgary. She placed eighth in her first race, recording 38.71 in the M-Wave, Nagano, 0.29 seconds behind winner Wang Manli. She finished in the top ten a further five times that season, including two fourth-place finishes in 100 metre sprints, which gave her fifth place overall in the 100 metre World Cup. In other achievements, she won two senior Korean titles (on 2 × 500 metres and sprint), and came 14th in the 500 metres World Cup standings, 16th in the 1000 metres, and 15th in the samalog standings in the World Sprint Championships, though she was within half a second of the winner on both 500 metre races, finishing 9th and 12th.
In the World Championships, Lee won three medals that season; two in the junior championships, where she won bronze in the overall standings, though she was four points after the winner after 16th place on the 1500 and 19th on the 3000 metre event, and silver with the Korean team in the team pursuit event. And during the World Single Distance Championships in Inzell in March, two fourth-places were enough to take her to third place overall in the 500 metre competition, behind Chinese skaters Wang Manli and Wang Beixing.
In 2006, Lee improved on the 100 and 500 metres, though she fell into the B division on the 1000 metres. She finished on the World Cup podium four times during the season, including a win in the 100 metre World Cup final, though she finished behind Jenny Wolf in the overall standings. On the 500 metres, she was sixth in the World Cup. She also added three senior Korean titles to her record, winning the 500 metres, 1000 metres, and overall sprint championship. During the season, she registered a world junior record on the 500 metres, with a time of 37.90 in Utah Olympic Oval. She failed to improve on her 1000-metre time from last season, however.
The Turin Olympics ended with fifth place for Lee, despite her third-best second run which wasn't enough to lift her up more than one place. Earlier, she had finished 19th on the 1000 metres and 12th in the World Sprint Championships.
The 2007 season has seen further improvement for Lee. She is yet to finish outside the top two, and after three of 12 races she heads the overall standings on the 500 metres. She has also improved on the 1000 metres, and became 11th in the overall standings, with eighth place in Heerenveen as the best result.
At the 2010 Winter Olympics she won the gold medal in the 500 metres event.
On 9 November 2013, she broke the world record on 500 metres in the 2013–14 World Cup event in Calgary, Canada, with a time of 36.74 seconds. On 15 November, in the 2013–14 World Cup event in Salt Lake City, United States, she improved the record a further 17/100, to 36.57 seconds. The next day, she improved it another 21/100, to 36.36 seconds.
On 11 February 2014, she won the gold medal for the women's 500m longtrack speedskating race at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, having previously won the one at the 2010 Games. She became the first woman since Catriona Le May Doan at the 2002 Games to defend her gold at the event. She became the third woman to win back-to-back golds at the 500m, hence the first Korean woman to do so.
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Template:Footer Olympic Champions 500m Speed Skating Women
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Template:Footer World Sprint champions Speed Skating Women
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