Speed skater to focus on World Championships rather than Asian Games

Olympic speed skating champion Lee Sang-hwa said Tuesday she will focus on the world championships rather than the Asian Winter Games.

Lee won the women's 500-meter race at the national team trials for the 2017 Asian Winter Games after clocking 38.64 seconds. The winner and the runner-up of the race earn spots at the Feb. 19-26 Winter Asian Games in Japan.

Lee is the two-time Olympic gold medalist and the current world record holder in the 500m. The 27-year-old, however, has yet to win a gold medal at the Asian Games. She collected a silver medal in 2007 and settled for a bronze medal in 2011.

Although many fans expect that the speed skater would go for her first-ever Asian Game gold next year, Lee said she is putting more emphasis on the upcoming World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships.

The International Skating Union (ISU) event is scheduled for Feb. 9-12, 2017, in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, 237 km east of Seoul. It also serves as one of the test events for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

"I will focus on the world championships that start before the Asian Games," Lee told reporters after her race at Taereung Ice Rink in Seoul. "At the Asian Games, I just want to enjoy myself there."

Lee recently decided to skip the next ISU World Cup in January to focus on the two events in February. She has competed in both the 500m and 1,000m during the ISU World Cup season, but was bothered by injuries. She has only grabbed two silver and one bronze medal in the 500m.

"My knee and calf injuries are the same as before," she said. "Since I'm in the middle of the season, I can't stop exercising and there's no time for me to make full recovery. I have to compete with treatment."

Lee denied she is in slump, saying that she will aim to have good results at the world championships.

"You can't always be at the top," she said. "There are rivals and competing with them gives me motivation. Although I didn't have a good result at the World Cup series, I will prepare thoroughly for the world championships."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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