Charles Hamelin Wins Silver in 1500m at World Championships

Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) broke the string of bad luck he had been experiencing in the 1500m at World Championships by winning a silver medal, today, in Sheffield, Great Britain. Over the last four years, Hamelin had experienced bad luck in that distance, with two disqualifications, one 18th and one 19th position. This time around, he was able to put that behind him and make his way to the podium.

After strong quarter and semifinal rounds, Hamelin was on the start line for the final round, along with three Korean skaters, two Americans and one Chinese. He started out third behind two Koreans, but quickly took the lead of a slow race. A few passes followed, but with eight laps to go in the race, Hamelin was once again in front when Korean Noh Jinkyu passed one lap later, and remained strong in first for the rest of the race, finishing in 2:18.291. In the last three laps, American Jeff Simon tried to take the second place away from Hamelin, but the Canadian remained strong, crossing second in 2:18.676 good for the silver medal, and Simon had to settle for bronze in 2:18.725.

“One of Charles’ primary goals this year was to work on different strategies, challenge his patience in races,” explained Hamelin’s coach, Derrick Campbell. “He had an excellent race strategy today, he was positioned 2nd at the right time in the race. Unfortunately, the Korean just had a really strong showing and although Charles was in the best position to win, he finished second. It’s excellent for him, he showed he can be more versatile in his races. Typically he is always in front and that can’t work each time. Knowing he was able to be more patient, more selective today, that will give him more confidence going into the other races this weekend.”

Both Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) and François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) were eliminated in their respective semi-final race, which places them 10th and 11th respectively in the distance.

“Both François and Olivier had good races today, François was passing to take the lead on the outside with five laps to go when there was a contact with two other skaters and he was pushed outside, it’s very unfortunate. Olivier tried to pass but made a small mistake and stopped his pass, which took a lot of energy out of him and he just couldn’t come back afterwards,” continued Campbell.

On the women side, the three Canadian skaters were also eliminated in semi-final. Marie-Ève Drolet (Laterière, QC) came close to qualifying for the final, but she was facing a very tough semi-final race. After leading many laps, she was relegated in the middle of the pack, and despite a last ditch attempt at the finish line, she ended up third of her semi-final, good for 7th place overall in the distance. Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) was fourth of her semi-final, for 12th position overall, and Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC), who remained patiently in the back for most of her race, was blocked in her efforts to pass late in the race and finished last, which places her 18th overall.

“It’s very encouraging, but also a bit frustrating,” commented women’s coach Sébastien Cros. “To have all three girls make the semi-final was great, that hadn’t happened in a while for Canada at the World Championships in the 1500m. They all had a shot at making the final, but little mistakes made them stop there, which is a bit frustrating.”

In the last race of the day, Drolet, Hewitt and St-Gelais teamed up with Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) for the relay semi-final. They dominated their race, while both the Japanese and American teams fell behind them, and easily won in a time of 4:21.922. They will race the final on Sunday, along with China, Korea and the Netherlans.

Skaters will be back on the ice tomorrow in Sheffield, where they will race for the 500m World Titles. St-Gelais, who has not lost a race in the distance all season, is definitely the woman to beat, and keep an eye out for Olympic Champion Charles Hamelin. The men’s relay semi-final race is also taking place tomorrow, and Canada will be facing the US, China and Great Britain.