South Korea’s two-time Olympic gold medalist, Lee Sang Hwa, was hoping to win her third gold medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. With the nation’s eyes and pressure on her shoulders, she skated as fast as she could.
But her time of 37.33 wasn’t able to surpass her longtime rival Japan’s Nao Kodaira‘s time of 36.94.
Nao Kodaira won gold, while Lee Sang Hwa won silver for the event.
Lee Sang Hwa couldn’t help but shed tears over the final outcome.
She had fought multiple obstacles including serious injuries while preparing for the 2018 Olympics.
But instead of celebrating her victory, Nao Kodaira immediately turned to Lee to see if she was alright.
Kodaira skated with Lee Sang Hwa, consoling her until Lee was able to give a big smile.
And while Lee Sang Hwa was certainly disappointed, she was also happy for Kodaira.
“I respect her control as a skater. We have a lot of memories. We have shared a lot together.” — Lee Sung Hwa
When Kodaira later spoke with Japan Times, she called Lee Sang Hwa her friend that she truly respected.
“We have competed against each other for many years. I really respect her and I really look up to her, as a human and a skater.” — Nao Kodaira
Fans also noticed Nao Kodaira asking the audience to quiet down just before Lee Sang Hwa took the rink for her race. The gesture was a sign of respect for Lee Sang Hwa, asking the audience to not disrupt her concentration.
Lee Sang Hwa race began right after Nao Kodaira’s race, where Kodaira broke Lee Sang Hwa’s Olympic record that she set back in 2014.
The touching friendship between the two rivals went viral all around the world.
Mutual respect between 'rivals' Nao Kodaira and Lee Sang-hwa, who finished first and second in the women's 500 meters speed skating. via /r/sports https://t.co/VVYNbvUMkN
— Joseph Floyd (@Paola_Rojas_H) February 18, 2018
Beautiful moment of sportsmanship on the #SpeedSkating long track as 500m gold medal winner Nao Kodaira of #JPN comforted the silver medalist Lee Sang-hwa of #KOR as she was heartbroken that she had not defended her Olympic title. Love this stuff. #PyeongChang2018 #Olympics
— Dan Hunt (@DanPHuntington) February 19, 2018
@Nao_kodaira Congratulations on your winning of golden medal today, and renewing olympic record! And, as one of Korean, I really thank you. You must have been a great comfort to Lee Sang-Hwa and her last appearance.
— 백구 [Moon Rises!] (@wind_blows) February 18, 2018
— poet | artist (@jonghyunisbling) February 18, 2018
Check out the full video of the emotional win below.