SKorea''s Lee wins 1,500m gold

VANCOUVER: Lee Jung-su won the men''s 1,500m short-track speed skating gold at the Winter Olympics on Saturday, but powerhouse South Korea''s hopes of a podium sweep were shattered on a last-bend collapse.

American Apolo Anton Ohno finished second to become the most decorated Olympic short-track skater with six medals from three Games.

Lee clocked 2min 17.611sec with Ohno 0.365sec behind while another American J.R. Celski finished third in 2:18.053 in the first event of the eight-race short-track competition.

South Korea were just metres from a sweep, but Sung Si-Bak and Lee Ho-Suk collided and both men crashed into the boards around the final turn.

"I don''t feel good about it because I wanted them to get medals, too," said Lee Jung-Su, who has emerged as South Korea''s number-one after finishing top in the 1,000m and 1,500m World Cup series this season ahead of his Olympic debut.

"I usually don''t start from the front. Today I decided to be in the lead from the beginning and it worked out," said the 20-year-old.

Lee Ho-Suk, 23, was aiming for his first Olympic gold after finishing runner-up to compatriot to Ahn Hyun-Soo four years ago in Turin.

"I was fully aware that Lee Ho-Suk was strong and concentrated for gold. Short track is very unpredictable," the winner said.

Ohno swapped the lead with the three Koreans in the six-man race before the final lap.

"I was fighting with one Korean and then I passed him and was fighting with another Korean," said the 27-year-old Japanese American who denied South Korea''s sweep of four men''s medals in Turin by winning the 500m.

"The Koreans were skating pretty aggressively throughout the race, it made it a little bit easier.

"Now I have six medals, I just feel good. It''s like my first Olympics," said Ohno, whose collection includes two golds and nine world titles.

Ohno surpassed long-track star Eric Heiden''s haul of five medals, all of them golden, and tied another long-track legend Bonnie Blair''s six as the most medalled US winter Olympian.

Celski said: "I can''t even explain what happened. It''s just a blur. I knew there was a lot of movement, it was hard for me to stay out of it and then I found myself going over the line in third."

The 19-year-old was competing for the first time after his skate blade deeply sliced his left leg at the national championships in September and underwent surgery.

It was South Korea''s 30th Olympic short-track medal, and their 18th gold, since the sport made its debut in 1992.

"I was expecting more disqualifcations from the race. It was a crazy first race but it turned out well," added Ohno, who won his first Olympic title in the same event in 2002.