China takes first Sochi Olympics medal in short track

Sochi, Feb 11 (IANS) A men's 1,500 metres short track speed skating silver was China's first medal at the Winter Olympics as well as a silver lining for the country which has lost triple defending champion Wang Meng to injury.

In the last Olympics, the Chinese short trackers swept the women's 500m, 1,000m, 1,500m and 3,000m relay golds mainly thanks to Meng, who pulled out of Sochi after sustaining an ankle injury, reports Xinhua.

China claimed their first medal Monday as Han Tianyu, 17, clocked two minutes and 15.055 seconds, equalling the best ever result by a Chinese men's short tracker at the Olympics. Han trailed Canadian World No.1 Charles Hamelin by 0.070 seconds but beat South Korea's 2006 Olympic triple gold medallist Victor An, who now represents Russia, into third place.

"Since it's my first Winter Games, I'm a little bit nervous and didn't think very much. I had never thought I could make it to the finals, let alone stand on the podium. I took every round as my final and tried my best to compete," said Han, whose teammate Chen Dequan, 18, finished fifth with a time of 2:15.626.

Earlier, all three Chinese competitors in the women's 500m -- Liu Qiuhong, Li Jianrou and Fan Kexin -- made it to Thursday's quarter-finals. They and Zhou Yang also set up a rematch of the women's 3,000m relay against South Korea.

"We've been trying our best under the principle of keeping safe. Since there're so many ways leading to victory but an injury could cost it all," said Zhou, who is defending her 1,500m and 3,000m relay titles here.

The women's 500m final is scheduled Feb 13 and the women's 3,000m relay final Feb 18.