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For this drama, Ohno creates a "perfect' ending

Apolo Anton Ohno made this another Olympics to remember at the short track.

Leading from start to finish, Ohno upset favored South Korean Ahn Hyun-soo to win gold in the 500 meters Saturday. And before the final night of competition was done, he skated to his third medal of the Games.

With a burst at the end, Ohno passed an Italian skater to grab bronze for the Americans in the 5,000 relay.

So much for being a bust. For the second Olympics in a row, Ohno is a star.

"I've never been a 500 specialist. I've never shined consistently in this race," he said. "To lead from start to finish doesn't happen very often. For me, it was the perfect race."

After two false starts by other skaters, Ohno anticipated the gun perfectly and broke away from the line clear of the other four finalists. He led the entire way and didn't have to worry about Ahn, who got caught up behind two Canadians, Francois-Louis Tremblay and Eric Bedard.

Ohno looked back once, threw up his arms and screamed when he crossed the line first. He jumped into the arms of a U.S. coach and grabbed an American flag for the victory lap.

"So much emotion, so much passion, everything was moving through my body," he said. "It's crazy."

Showing there were no hard feelings from Salt Lake City, Ahn came over to shake Ohno's hand in the middle of the rink.

Tremblay held on for second, and Ahn passed Bedard to claim the bronze. The South Korean became the first skater to win three individual medals in short track, but he fell short of three golds after winning the 1,000 and 1,500.

"I was waiting for (Ohno) to make a mistake, but he didn't make one," Tremblay said. "Everything he did was perfect."

Ahn and his South Korean teammates came back to win gold in the 5,000 relay, holding off Canada. Trailing a half-lap behind were the Americans and the Italians, basically staging their own race for third.

Ohno closed it out for the United States, blowing past Nicola Rodigari and gliding across the line. He earned the fifth Olympic medal of his career.

The soul-patched American was one of the most feted athletes at the Salt Lake City Games, where he won gold and silver in thrilling races.

At Turin, Ohno got off to a shaky start, failing to qualify for the final of the 1,500 and settling for bronze in the 1,000. He was in danger of falling into the category of high-profile Americans who appeared to be falling short of expectations.

Not anymore.

Three new medals make him the fourth U.S. Winter Olympian to win at least that many in a single Games. He joins long-track speed-skaters Eric Heiden, Sheila Young and Chad Hedrick, the brash Texan who joined this exclusive club a day earlier.

Four years ago, Ohno picked up his medals in two wacky races. There was a disputed gold in the 1,500, when a South Korean was disqualified for an illegal block on Ohno, leading to outrage in the short-track-mad Asian nation.

Ohno got silver in the 1,000 when the top four skaters wiped out on the final turn, but he managed to crawl across the line in second, then went to the medal ceremony in a wheelchair.

There was nothing controversial about this gold - at least in the final.

Ohno did get some help from the judges earlier in the night. He appeared to finish third in the semifinals, which wouldn't have been good enough to advance. But he moved on when China's Li Jiajun, a veteran of four Olympics, was disqualified for impeding another skater.

Battling for the lead, Li and Ohno clashed in a turn with two laps to go, nearly sending the American into the padding.

Ohno dropped all the way to last, then made a brilliant move coming off the final turn. He surged past a British skater, Jon Eley, and stuck out his right blade in a desperate attempt to get Li for the second spot.

The replay showed Li getting there first, but it didn't matter. He was DQ'd for impeding Eley coming off that last curve. Ohno moved up to second, and Eley also advanced.

"The Chinese was holding me back," Eley said.

Standing just off the ice, Ohno smiled and pumped his fist when the official results were posted.

But that was nothing compared to his reaction after the final. "Yeeaaah!" he screamed, his eyes lighting up as if he couldn't believe he had another gold. He put his head down, shaking it slowly, then threw his arms in the air again.

American fans rocked the arena.