GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Lim Hyo-jun won the men's 1,500 meter short track speed skating event on Saturday to bring the host country its first gold medal at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Lim crossed the finish line in an Olympic record time of 2:10.485, in the men's 1,500m finals at Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, the sub-host city of the PyeongChang Olympics, which started on the previous day for a 17-day run.
He reached the top of the podium in his first Olympics on home soil.
Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands took the silver medal and Semen Elistratov of Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) finished third.
But his teammate Hwang Dae-heon, the current No. 1 in the discipline's world ranking, did not finish the race after he fell.
In the men's 1,500m final, the two South Koreans started the 13.5-lap race in the middle of the nine-man pack. With nine laps to go, Lim and Hwang moved to the front, but soon Dutch Knegt gained the lead.
Lim boosted up to return to his top position with two laps to go and stayed in the spot until the finish line.
He said his victory at his first Olympics hasn't fully hit him yet.
"I can't believe this. It's a big competition," said the 21-year old in a mixed-zone interview. "I stood at the top of the podium, but I didn't make it by myself. Coaches and other teammates trained hard together. I want to thank them all."
He added he will do his utmost to top the men's 5,000m relay, which South Korea hasn't won in 12 years.
"I'm pleased with today's results, but I don't stop racing until the 5,000m relay," he said. "It's all or nothing for the team. Watch us."
The skater said he want to thank Victor An, the South Korea-born short track speed skater who was not invited to PyeongChang due to him allegedly being involved in Russia's state-sponsored doping, for giving him advice before the competition.
An, whose Korean name is Ahn Hyun-soo, won six gold in two previous Olympics, including three for South Korea at 2006 Torino.
"I dreamed of this Olympic competition when I saw him skate at the 2006 Torino Olympics. He is my role model," said Lim. "I felt sorry for the news. It would be great to skate with him here."
South Korea's Lim Hyo-jun (C) poses at the flower ceremony for the men's 1,500m short track speed skating event at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Feb. 10, 2018. (Yonhap)
Lim's gold medal is the country's first Olympic medal in men's short track in eight years, as male skaters failed to win any medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The women's team earned gold in the 3,000m relay and 1,000m in Sochi.
Meanwhile, North Korea's Choe Un-song, who was injured during a pre-Olympic practice, failed to reach the semifinals after finishing sixth in a preliminary session.
"He did his best until the end of the race," coach Yun Chol said in a mixed-zone interview, adding that his athlete was too tired to have an interview.