Speed skater Lee Sang-hwa broke her own world record in the women's 500 meters for the second time in as many days in the United States on Saturday, continuing her torrid pace ahead of next year's Winter Olympics.
Lee won the women's 500ｍ in 36.36 seconds in the second leg of the International Skating Union (ISU) Speed Skating World Cup being held in Salt Lake City, Utah, improving her own record by 0.21 second.
Skaters raced 500ｍ twice at the World Cup competition. Lee won the first 500ｍ event on Friday in 36.57 seconds, then a world record by 0.17 second.
On Saturday, Heather Richardson of the U.S. placed second at 36.90 seconds, followed by Olga Fatkulina of Russia at 37.13 seconds.
This marked the fourth time in 2013 that Lee, 24, set a world record in the 500ｍ. She established her first-ever world record with the time of 36.80 at a World Cup race in Calgary in January. Then on Nov. 9 also in Calgary, she won the second 500ｍ at the first World Cup of the season in 36.74 seconds.
In speed skating history, only three other skaters have broken the world record in the women's 500ｍ at least four times: Christa Rothenburger of Germany, Bonnie Blair of the U.S. and Catriona Le May Doan of Canada.
Lee is the reigning Olympic champion in the 500ｍ and her remarkable run of late makes her the favorite to repeat as the gold medalist when Sochi, Russia, hosts the 2014 Winter Games next February.
Lee is the only South Korean to have won an Olympic medal of any color in speed skating. She will look to become the fourth woman to repeat as the 500ｍ Olympic champion, after Lyudmila Titova of the old Soviet Union, Blair and Le May Doan.
Lee dominated the 500ｍ during the previous World Cup season from November 2012 to March of this year, winning nine races en route to capturing the overall title.
In World Cup events, skaters earn 100 points for each win and 150 points for a victory at the season-ending World Cup Final.
So far this season, Lee has won all four 500ｍ races in the World Cup circuit -- twice in Calgary and twice in Salt Lake City -- for 400 points, 120 points better than Wang Beixing of China. (Yonhap)