Olympic short track champion Lee Jung-su to switch to speed skating: coach

SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- Lee Jung-su, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in short track speed skating, will switch to long track, his coach said Wednesday.

"Lee Jung-su said he would like to take on a new challenge," said Mo Ji-soo, Lee's coache on the Goyang City Hall semi-pro club. "Our team is more than willing to offer him full support."

At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Lee swept up short track gold medals in the men's 1,000 meters and 1,500 meters, and won silver in the 5,000m relay. He was slowed by injuries immediately after the Olympics but skated for South Korea in international events as recently as the 2011-2012 season.

Lee, 23, failed to earn a spot on the national short track team for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at a tryout in April, and Mo said Lee wants to try to compete in the Olympics in a new sport.

According to the coach, Lee won't enter short track events in the upcoming season and plans to travel to Canada for training in August.

The switch from short track to long track isn't entirely uncommon. Lee Seung-hoon is one high-profile case. He won the gold in the men's 10,000m and the silver in the 5,000m in speed skating at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, after competing in short track for several years. Lee Seung-hoon had enjoyed a fairly successful short track career, winning two gold medals at the 2008 world championships and four gold medals at two Winter Universiades.

Experts believe talented short trackers can make a smooth transition to long track because of their durability and cornering skills.

Lee Jung-su leaves short track with two Olympic titles and three world championships to his credit. Mo, his coach, said Lee thought long and hard about the switch as he felt the burden of expectations because of his decorated short track career. Mo added, however, that trying to make the transition is a significant step in itself.

As a short tracker, Lee is known for his strength, endurance and balance, all of which will likely come in handy on the long oval.

"We haven't yet timed Lee (on the long track)," Mo said. "But once his training picks up the pace, I think he should be able to match current national team speed skaters."

Aside from Lee Seung-hoon, Mo Tae-bum is another male long track star for South Korea. Mo won the 2010 Olympic gold in the men's 500m and also has two world titles in the same distance under his belt.

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