Chinese teenager Yang Jingru has left the world stunned after pulling off one of the most audacious moves ever seen at the Youth Winter Olympics, going viral two weeks after claiming the 1500m short track speed skating gold medal.
But it wasn’t the fact that she won the medal that made headlines, it was how she did it.
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In a move that SB Nation dubbed “the most genius trick the Olympics have ever seen to win gold”, Yang stunned the field to win by over eight seconds by hardly raising a sweat.
In regular short track speed skating events, competitors start slow and jostle for position before a flat out race to the end.
Or, if you’re Stephen Bradbury, you hang out at the back and wait for everyone else in front of you to take each other out before you cruise into history.
But the 17-year-old Yang pulled off an audacious and risky move to shock the other finalists when she took off after half a lap into the race.
The race takes 13-and-a-half laps but the move saw Yang rejoin the back of the pack with 10 laps to go, where she just blended in.
Known as the “rabbit tactic”, it’s not unheard of but is not often seen in senior competitions.
It’s hard to know whether the move just surprised the rest of the field or they thought her bold strategy would burn her out and bring her back to the field but it appears they forgot she was there.
So as the laps remaining ticked down, the rest of the field were responding to Yang’s count, as she was a full lap ahead but sitting in what they believed was last place.
TikTok user Arielle Schmidt’s video of the race went viral, attracting more than 20 million views and covered the whole race — which is well worth a watch.
“Two laps to go — remember first place is here, freaking chilling in the back,” Schmidt said.
“And then you hear final lap, there’s a bell that goes off, so now everyone’s thinking ‘final lap’.
“Are they still thinking final lap? Do they know it’s not their final lap? They dive, she dove, there’s first!
“She just finished in first, the cameraman stopped — the cameraman thought the race was over.”
As the race continues, the other Chinese competitor Li Jinzi cruises to the silver after the rest of the field realised Yang had pulled off the ultimate heist.
The International Olympic Committee’s TikTok account also posted the footage, which gained 10 million views.
Joe Pompliano, who runs the Huddle Up Substack Newsletter tweeted: “This video is incredible. A Chinese speed skater takes off at the beginning of a longer race. Her teammate then sprints to the front, confusing everyone on the “final lap” and easily securing Gold and Silver medals for the team. Watch until the end. Great teamwork.”
YouTuber Cyrus Janssen posted: “This video is truly incredible! I don’t know why we’ve never seen this done before, but hats off to these Chinese skaters with this new strategy! Wow that’s next level smart.”
Incredibly, the final was held back on January 20 but has taken off since as it’s spread across social media.
Speaking to CGTN, Yang said she came up with the move herself.
“It was a daring move, one I had never attempted before,” Yang said.
“But it was my own strategy, a secret weapon nobody saw coming. It left everyone bewildered and unsure of how to respond. And it worked like a charm …
“I achieved what I had set out to do. My goal was to claim the gold medal, and I’m pleased that I was able to turn that vision into a reality.”
It was a stunning Youth Olympics for both Yang and Li, with the gold and silver positions switched in the 1000m final, while they were also part of China’s mixed relay victory.