Boda locks in Olympic dream | Australian Olympic Committee
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Boda locks in Olympic dream

Author imageAOC31 Dec 2013

SHORT TRACK: Tuesday evening will be a New Year's Eve to remember for 20-year-old Pierre Boda, earning Olympic qualification in a nerve-racking short track skate-off finale.

SHORT TRACK: Tuesday evening will be a New Year's Eve to remember for 20-year-old Pierre Boda, earning Olympic qualification in a nerve-racking short track skate-off finale.

In the best of three 500m races, Boda was one-up going into Tuesday morning's racing but wasn't able to pull off a clean sweep like so many people expected.

"I changed my plan to yesterday - it didn't really work out," Boda said after going down to Andy Jung in race 2.

Boda led from the start of race 2 but with a lap to go, he lost all the power in his legs and slowed down enough for Jung to snag the lead.

Jung, 16, was triumphant, forcing a third and deciding race for the coveted Olympic berth.

Half an hour separated the two races, with the tension in Melbourne's Icehouse becoming palpable. As the pair lined up for the deciding race, it was all or nothing.

Olympic Champion Steven Bradbury was commentating the race and described it as "one of the slowest 500m races" he had ever seen. And after both athletes had broken the national record on day 1, it was obviously going to be tactics not speed that would win.

Jung had the inside lane after winning race 2 and he used it to his advantage, taking the lead and leaving Boda the tough task of setting up a pass.

Boda made his move going into the last lap, at which point the event took a dramatic turn as the pair touched and Jung went flying to the edge of the rink. As Boda completed the lap and sailed over the finish line, the suspense thickened as the crowd was left wondering what the result would be and if Jung had suffered a serious injury.

It came down to the esteemed judgment of Jim Hewish, international referee with the experience of five Olympic Games under his belt. After what felt like hours but was in fact just minutes, Hewish ruled that Jung had illegally blocked Boda, resulting in his disqualification.

"It's not the ideal way to qualify, especially as we are mates," a clearly rattled Boda said after the race.

"It hasn't really set in yet. The way it happened, it wasn't the nicest way - I wasn't sure if I was in or not. It's still a great feeling to qualify.

"Anything can happen in short track though, that's the sport. Sometimes it just doesn't happen at the best of times."

Teammates and friends, Boda and Jung were able to congratulate each other on a great day's racing.

"It's short track," Jung said. "That's why the sport is exciting."

With an ice pack on his knee which was only minorly injured in the fray, Jung was back on the ice for training at the end of the races. Jung's talent is obvious to everyone and to go from being an occasional club skater to an Olympic contender in just 12 months, means this young skater is the one to watch for PyeongChang 2018.

Once the reality of his qualification had time to settle in, Boda was able to enjoy his victory and the realisation that his 14 years of skating would now take him to the Olympics, something he has dreamed about for the last four years. He will now be nominated to the AOC, along with Deanna Lockett, for selection to the Olympic Team. And now it's time to enjoy New Year's celebrations and look to Sochi - just 38 days away.

"I'd like to celebrate tonight," Boda said. "But I'll probably be in bed really early. At least we don't have to train tomorrow, one last day off!"

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