United States speed skater Joey Mantia felt cheated after his fourth-place finish in the men’s mass start final on Saturday.
Mantia was in third place entering the final turn before he stumbled and dropped back to fourth. He fought hard to get back into the fight for medals and forced a photo finish. He missed out on third place by 0.001 seconds, the tip of South Korea’s Lee Seung-Hoon’s blade, and was 0.09 ticks behind gold medalist Bart Swings of Belgium.
The American wanted a penalty called on Lee for holding Mantia back.
“Maybe I’m biased about that, but I felt like his hand was on my arm, pulling me back,” Mantia said. “From what I can see from the replay my foot was in front of his, and then his foot came in front of mine. How did that happen if I’m gaining on him?”
Mantia and Lee reached at each other ahead of the finish, although the latter made extended contact which is what the American wants reviewed.
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The 36-year-old from Ocala, Florida, gutted through the race while dealing with back issues. He did not compete in the men’s 1000m on Friday in order to rest ahead of the mass start, the discipline of which he is the reigning world champion.
Mantia said he believed he had a medal-worthy showing on Saturday despite the pain and hopes the International Skating Union looks into the late contact.
“I dealt with the race perfectly,” Mantia said. “I’m a little frustrated with my body. The training was good all year, I did everything perfect, and then the last few weeks I’ve been dealing with stuff with my back.”
As it stands, Mantia ended his third Olympic Games without his first career individual medal. He collected two fourth-place finishes in the past two Winter Olympics.
Mantia won’t go home emptyhanded, though, as he earned a bronze medal in the team pursuit.
“You show up to the Olympics with ambitions of getting gold, and then unforeseen circumstances show up and you have to pivot and focus,” Mantia said. “That’s how life works, right? If you’re unable to change your outlook on things, you’re always going to be unhappy. I’m so proud of being able to call myself an Olympic medalist.”
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