An Kai pulls off shock win for China's first gold medal of Winter Universiade
Hu Zhicheng

No one expected An Kai to win the gold in Krasnoyarsk, Russia on Monday night. Not even him.

The lanky student from the Ocean University of China was obviously not among the favorites when the men's 1,500m short track speed skating competition got underway at the 29th Winter Universiade. 

With S. Korean stars such as Hong Kyungh-wan and Park Ji-won in the field, few pinned their hopes on a Chinese skater who had yet to establish himself on the world stage. 

An Kai (C) stays close behind Park Ji-won (L) and Hong Kyungh-wan during the men's 1,500m short track event at the 2019 Winter Universiade, March 4, 2019. /VCG Photo

An Kai (C) stays close behind Park Ji-won (L) and Hong Kyungh-wan during the men's 1,500m short track event at the 2019 Winter Universiade, March 4, 2019. /VCG Photo

The thrilling 1,500m final only seemed to confirm that An had some way to go before he could be considered a genuine contender. He languished in a distant third in the closing laps of the race while Hong stormed to pole position, closely followed by his compatriot Park.

However, Lady Luck smiled on An in the most dramatic circumstances as Park, hoping to overtake his team-mate on the final corners, failed to display composure and clipped front-runner Hong's foot in the process. It was such an epic failure for South Korea that both men saw their gold medal hopes vanish after sliding into the barriers. 

With Hong and Park withdrawing from the race, all that stood between An and the gold was the thin air, and he duly accepted the godsend of opportunity to emerged from the shadow with an unexpected triumph.

An Kai walks away with the gold medal of the men's 1500m short track event at the 2019 Winter Universiade, March 4, 2019. /VCG Photo

An Kai walks away with the gold medal of the men's 1500m short track event at the 2019 Winter Universiade, March 4, 2019. /VCG Photo

"The South Korean guys are really strong, but I just tried to focus on my own pace, and the result turned out to be good," said An, who was the epitome of calm and poise during this hard-fought contest.

While his remarkable story will surely be immortalized in China's history book, An's innate humility never let any of this stunning win impact who he really is. 

"It's all about teamwork. Our training turned out to be fruitful," he mused. "I will keep trying hard in future competitions."