Winter Olympics: No luck for Gooch as illness takes its toll

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The Independent Online
Nagano's White Ring arena is turning into one of Nicky Gooch's least favourite places, writes Mike Rowbottom.

Last year Britain's bronze medallist from the 1994 Games had a disastrous world championships here, and last night his hopes of success in the 1,000 metres short track speed skating event disappeared in just over a minute and and a half.

The 25-year-old from Barnes had his preparations for these Games disrupted by a chest infection, which caused him to lose a week's training after arriving here on 2 February. He finished third and last in his heat behind Canada's Francois Drolet, and South Korea's world champion, Kim Dong-Sung, who went on to take the gold medal.

"I had a tough draw in my heat," Gooch said. "When I tried to change pace I just didn't have it in my legs."

He will, however, race tomorrow in the heats of the 500m individual event and the 5,000m relay.

Matt Jasper finished eighth overall yesterday, after being assisted to a semi-final place by a collision on the final bend between the second and third placed Jun-Hwan Lee of South Korea and Marc Gagnon, Canada's three-times world champion.

Jasper, who was coasting home last by nearly 20 metres, smiled sheepishly as he crossed the line. But he produced a spirited performance in the five-man semi-final, missing qualification by one place as he finished third.

Jasper was also affected by a chest infection before the Games began, missing two days' training, but he will be back in the 500m.

Katja Seizinger, who on Monday became the first person to retain an Olympic downhill title, won her second gold of the Games in the women's combined. She held off Martina Ertl and Hilde Gerg in the slalom element as Germany completed the first clean sweep in a women's alpine event since 1964.