North Korean speed skater Jong Kwang Bom crashed onto the ice during an Olympic pre-heat not once, but twice, and ultimately was disqualified for pushing a competitor, Yahoo! Sports reported.
The athlete, who was working to qualify for the men’s 500 meter short-track speed skating event, fell to the ice right after leaving the starting line, the outlet said.
And he crashed in such a way that some onlookers claimed he may have been trying to cause fellow competitor Ryosuke Sakazume of Japan to fall as well. Still, Sakazume said he didn’t suspect anything nefarious.
Despite typical race rules, Olympic officials allowed a restart, Yahoo! Sports reported. But midway through a lap, Jong Kwang Bom reportedly fell a second time, again getting tangled with Sakazume and pushing him. The Japanese competitor managed his way through while Jong hit the ice and sailed off to the side, the outlet said.
The North Korean athlete finished his only Olympic race in fourth place and ultimately was disqualified by officials following the crash, Yahoo! Sports said.
When asked later, Sakazume reportedly chalked the moment up as coincidence.
“I believe it was unintentional,” Sakazume told the outlet. “His hand happened to be by my skate as he fell down.”
Sakazume’s coach, Jonathan Guilmette, echoed a similar sentiment, saying he didn’t know what happened and “it is really hard to judge.”
“I don’t know what was his intention,” Guilmette said. “It is really hard to judge what’s the intention. I don’t know if he tried to grab the skates or if he is just trying to hold onto something like a reflex – there are so many hands all over in our sport. That was a reflex thing more than trying to trip over someone else.”
Sakazume clinched second place in the race, sending him to the next round.