Hamelin & Roberge world champions in short track speed skating

Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., and Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., took the gold medal in the men’s and women’s 500-metres respectively on Saturday at the world championships in short track speed skating. It was a first individual world title for both.

In the men’s 500, Hamelin led Canada to a 1-2 finish clocking 41.449 seconds with defending champion François-Louis Tremblay of Montreal second in 41.514 and Hyun-Soo Ahn of South Korea third in 41.625.

Hamelin made an inside pass on Tremblay after the first lap to gain the lead for good as the two Canadians rocketed to the finish. Ahn attempted to pass Tremblay on the last turn and nearly lost his balance but still held on to third spot.

On Friday, Hamelin was eliminated in the first round in the men’s 1,500.

‘’I knew I had turn things around’’ said Hamelin. ‘’I was determined to do very well today. I wanted to show that I’m the top guy in the 500. I knew that being fourth on the line I had to have a great start. Once I got ahead of François-Louis I just tried to build my lead as much as I could.’’

Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que., was eliminated in the semifinals for eighth overall.

With the victory, Hamelin is tied with Ahn for first place overall at 34 points. Tremblay is fourth at 21.

‘’The overall title is my big goal here,’’ said Hamelin. ‘’I believe it’s attainable for me and I’ll be focused to do everything I can to win that title.’’

In the women’s 500, Roberge overcame some bumping at the start to win in 45.329. Arianna Fontana of Italy was second in 45.394 and Eun-Ju Jung of South Korea third in 47.865. Once untracked from the start grid, Roberge took the front and never looked back.

‘’I feel great,’’ said Roberge. ‘’In the final, the start was very tight. The four of us were pretty much equal in strength. So it was predictable that there would be some action. But I was able to build a gap pretty quickly and I think the Korean and Chinese girls panicked a little trying to catch me. I just focused on my own race and never realized initially that they had both fallen.’’

Amanda Overland of Montreal and Anne Maltais of Quebec City were eliminated in the semifinals for seventh and eighth respectively.

Jung is first overall at 47 points followed by Roberge at 34. Last year Roberge was third overall at the worlds but battled through some health issues over the summer and into this season.

‘’I would have never thought at the start of the season I would win a world title,’’ she said. ‘’I lost some valuable technical training this season. Certainly it augurs well for next year if I can enter the season fully prepared.’’

In the men’s 5,000 relay semifinal, Canada won its heat to advance to final with Hamelin, Jean, Tremblay and Jean-François Monette of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que.

Competition ends Sunday.