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SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean speed skater Mo Tae-bum finished fourth in the men's 500 meters at the Sochi Winter Games on Monday, coming up just short of the country's first medal in Russia.
In the two-race event at Adler Arena Skating Center, Mo had a combined time of 69.69 seconds -- 0.38 second behind the champion, Michel Mulder of the Netherlands.
Mo was in fourth place after the opening race at 34.84 seconds, 0.25 second behind the leader, Jan Smeekens of the Netherlands, and finished his second race in 34.85 seconds, fifth fastest in the field.
Mo skated the second race in the 19th among 20 pairs, on the inner lane next to Mulder. The South Korean had a solid start and took the third place with two more skaters left.
Mo watched helplessly, however, as Smeekens clocked at 34.72 seconds to take the silver at 69.324 seconds and push the South Korean out of medals.
Ronald Mulder, Michel Mulder's twin brother, completed the Dutch sweep of the podium. He leapfrogged from sixth to third with a blistering 34.49 seconds in the second race for the combined time of 69.46 seconds.
Mo was trying to become only the fourth speed skater to repeat as the Olympic champ in the men's 500ｍ. He won the gold medal four years ago with a combined 69.82 seconds, and was one of only two skaters to complete the two races under 70 seconds.
On Monday in Sochi, five skaters were faster than 70 seconds after their two races.
Mo left the arena without speaking to reporters in the mixed zone. He will have a chance to redeem himself in the 1,000ｍ on Wednesday. Mo won the silver medal in that event four years ago, right behind Shani Davis of the United States. Davis will be gunning for his third straight Olympic title.
Three other South Koreans raced in the event. Lee Kyou-hyuk, competing in his sixth Winter Games, ranked 18th with 70.65 seconds. Olympic debutant Kim Jun-ho ended in 21st at 70.857 seconds, and Lee Kang-seok, the 500ｍ bronze medal winner from 2006, finished with 70.87 seconds combined, good for 22nd place.
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