Jamie Gregg Takes 8th Place at First Olympics

Jamie Gregg lunges towards the finish during his 1st 500mRichmond, February 15, 2010 (Sportcom) – Jamie Gregg was the highest placed Canadian today in the men’s 500m event at the Richmond Olympic Oval, with an 8th place finish. The Edmonton native had a combined time of 70.26 after two heats. Jeremy Wotherspoon (70.282) finished in 9th place; Mike Ireland (70.63) 16th and Kyle Parrott (71.344) rounded out the Canadians in 21th.

The podium was comprised entirely of Asian skaters; Korean Tae-Bum Ho (69.82) took gold, ahead of Japan’s silver medallist Keiichiro Nagashima (69.98) while Joji Kato (70.01) took the bronze.

The event was marked by a 90 minute pause in racing which occured after half of the skaters had completed their first heat; the cause of the delay was mechanical issues with the ice resurfacing machine.

At his very first Olympic Winter Games, Jamie Gregg explained that he felt the Canadian crowd was behind him, “The crowd was incredible and it was overall a phenominal experience! I knew they would be cheering after I heard them during Michael’s race, and the cheers really helped me to manage my emotions during my own race,” commented Gregg, a bronze medallist at the December 2009 World Cup race in Calgary. “I could have improved my second corner in the first heat, but overall, I’m satisfied with the way I skated today,” he concluded.

When asked about the impact of the ice resurfacing delay on the race, Gregg commented that he was able to adapt his pre-race preparations.

“We had a few warm-ups and then had to return to wait. It was not an ideal situation, but it did help calm me down a bit. It was still a bit of a big deal for everyone,” analyzed the skater whose sister Jessica is also participating at the Olympic Winter Games as a member of the short track speed skating team.

In fifth place after his first heat, Jeremy Wotherspoon had hopes of skating even faster in the second heat. His time of 35.188 was sadly not quite enough to enable him to stay in fifth. After the event, Wotherspoon, the world record holder in the 500m event, sat for several minutes in an attempt to gather his thoughts.

“I just needed to be alone in order to prepare some answers,” indicated Wotherspoon to the reporters gathered. “It was very emotional – it was my last Olympic 500m and I wanted to have some reflection about my race. I felt better before the second heat than I did before the first heat; being in fifth place I knew I still had a chance, but I didn’t have much leeway.”

“The second heat didn’t go as I had wanted it too. I need to try to understand what happened. I did feel much better than in the 500m event in Torino, and I wasn’t focusing on the past,” he added. Wotherspoon will also be skating in the 1000m event scheduled for Wednesday.

Michael Ireland lived a very special performance himself, as the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games marks the end of a 16 year-long career on the Canadian Long Track Speed Skating team. “This was probably my last race, and I wanted to bring my career to a close at home, in front of my friends and family. I’ve been skating a long time…,” he explained thoughtfully.

“Unfortunately, while climbing the stairs to go warm up I started to have spasms in my upper back. I still raced, but its the Olympic Winter Games, and you have to be at 100% and nothing less. I was frustrated and said to myself Why this, why today?” concluded the 36 year old four-time Olympian from Winnipeg.

Canadian women Christine Nesbitt, Shannon Rempel and Anastasia Bucsis will be at the starting line Tuesday for the women’s 500m event.

Pictures from the Men's 500m are available at: https://inuksuk.patinagedevitesse.ca/media/media-gallery.cfm?albumID=21

Full results from the Men's 500m are available at: http://www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-speed-skating/schedule-and-results/mens-500-m-race-2-of-2_ssm205102qO.html

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Written by Sportcom for Speed Skating Canada

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