Maybe the Koreans are right.
Maybe Apolo Anton Ohno does skate dirty.
Ohno cost himself a ninth medal when he pushed Canadian short-track skater Francois-Louis Tremblay on the final turn of last night’s 500-meter final, sending Tremblay into the padded wall … and sending himself home without that extra medal, disqualified from the final.
Ohno was not particularly gracious about what was a fairly obvious foul.
“Going into the last corner, you know, I ran up on the Canadian guy, and he slipped, and the Korean slipped ... I don’t know why they called me for the disqualification," Ohno told NBC immediately after the race. “Oh well, Canadian ref, home soil.”
Referee Ken Pendrey is British.
Ohno then scooted off to participate in the 5,000m relay, where he anchored a bronze medal effort to extend his national Winter Games medal record to eight. Canada won gold.
That wasn’t the buzz at the partisan Pacific Coliseum. Not when the biggest name in the sport is caught cheating.
Cheating, and costing himself.
When Ohno fouled Tremblay, he was in last place in the 500, the spot he occupied the whole race. When Ohno fouled Tremblay, Se-Bak Sung, running second, fell of his own volition.
Given Sung’s fall, if Ohno had not pushed Tremblay then Ohno would have finished third and would have secured another medal.
Sung skidded across the line on his backside and was awarded silver. Tremblay was awarded bronze.
Ohno never admitted to the foul.
“I had so much speed – I put my hand up to (ital) not (end ital) run into the Canadian in front of me,” he said. “I saw two guys go down. I thought I had the silver.”
Tremblay thought Ohno had nothing. Tremblay threw up his hands and glared across the rink at Ohno as if to say, “What the Heck!?”
“I know (Ohno) pushed me. I never really fall,” Tremblay said. “The last time I fell was 2 years ago.”
Tremblay’s bronze in the 500 and his gold in the relay gave him five medals in the past two Winter Games, but he observed that, without Ohno around, he would have had a shot at silver last night.
“There was a mistake in front of me,” he said, referring to Tremblay’s fall.
Nobody benefited more from mistakes this Games than Ohno has.
Ohno was running last in his 500m quarterfinal heat when leader Thibault Fauconnet fell and took out Jon Eley, which meant Ohno could finish no worse than second, and the first two skaters advance through the heats (Eley was pushed through, too, by the judges).
Ohno snagged a medal on Feb. 13 thanks to a crash in the 1,500m race. He took silver after two Koreans tumbled in front of him at the race's end.
The winner, Korean Jung-Su Lee, complained bitterly to the Korean press that Ohno used his arms unfairly during the race, and that Lee was disgusted he had to share the podium with Ohno.
Koreans also complained when Ohno took gold in 2002 after a Korean who crossed the line first was disqualified for blocking Ohno, a judgment that skaters from other countries disputed, too.
Ohno backed out of a race in South Korea in 2003 after receiving death threats.
Ohno, who also won the bronze in the 1,000m race Saturday, did not announce whether he would retire. He is 29.
“It’s too early to say,” Ohno said.
The Koreans and Canadians certainly wouldn’t mind.