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Posted: | Updated: Feb 22, 2:31a ET

China's Zhou zips to 1500m title

American Katherine Reutter finishes fourth

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Zhou Yang of China came to Vancouver already owning the world record in women's 1500m short track speed skating. Now she has a gold medal and the Olympic record, too.

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The 18-year-old Zhou breezed to victory Saturday night in 2 minutes, 16.993 seconds. She took the lead with three laps left and pulled away from a packed field of seven other racers, a group that included three South Koreans but lacked her teammate and friend Wang Meng.

"I just skated with all my might," Zhou said. "I did not want to let anyone overtake me. I wanted to be the first to cross that finishing line."Zhou's medal is the second for China in women's short track. Wang won the other in the 500m on Wednesday night.

Racing in the semifinal heat immediately before Zhou's, Wang fell and then was disqualified. She had told Zhou not to watch her race, but the teenager did -- and, she said, "It did affect me."

"When I saw her fall, my heart sank," Zhou said. "Then I heard that the referee had disqualified her, my heart sank again."

But she shook it off for the finals.

"I just kept saying, 'I can do it. I can do it,"' Zhou said. "I pumped myself with confidence."

Lee Eun-Byul of South Korea, who earned the silver in 2:17.849. Her teammate, Park Seung-Hi -- who finished ahead of Zhou in quarterfinal and semifinal heats -- took the bronze, finishing in 2:17.927.

American Katherine Reutter finished fourth. Fifth was the other South Korean, Cho Ha-ri.

"I am disappointed," Lee said. "We had three Koreans in the final. We could have won gold."

The final was an eight-woman field, leaving little room to maneuver.

"In the beginning of the race, we were going well," Cho said. "But things went bad in the middle of the race. There was a lot of pushing and shoving. ... All three of us [Koreans] could have won. I am thankful that we won silver and bronze, but we should have won a gold medal."

Reutter, who was fourth at this distance at the last two world championships, made a couple of mistakes and found herself last with four laps to go. Although she was upset about the errors, she came away pleased with how she rallied back into the race.

"I told myself for months now that as long as I don't mess up I've got a chance for a medal," she said. "No mistakes. And I made a huge mistake."

Right after Zhou won, she put her hands together in a thank-you gesture. She later thanked the usual people, then added: "Last but not least, I want to thank the other competitors. Without their chasing me, I would not have succeeded. They were the force pushing me forward."

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