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Originally published Friday, February 26, 2010 at 6:13 PM

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Ohno earns bronze in relay, DQ'd in 500 final

Apolo Anton Ohno threw up his arms in a what-can-I-do gesture and smiled.

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Top three. For Canada's elite athletes with a disability, many of whom had cruised through earlier Paralympics with little outside pressure, the 2010 Games definitely ratcheted up the expectation level. And it was accomplished with a terrific final weekend.

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The 2010 Paralympics, breaking new records in attendance and visibility around the world, closed out in a flash of colour and patriotism Sunday night as athletes from around the world gathered under a basketball court-sized Canadian flag and wished the Games goodbye.

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An exhausted John Furlong said Sunday he is happy the arduous road to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Paralympics is virtually over. Looking wan and tired, and occasionally downcast, Furlong told reporters at a closing press conference his energetic "blue jackets" -- the volunteer backbone of two remarkable Games -- may wish for another week of fun, but he certainly doesn't.

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When wheelchair athlete Chantal Petitclerc won 10 gold medals combined at the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Summer Games, she was reserved a star on Canada's Walk of Fame. So where does that place skier Lauren Woolstencroft - who earned at least half a star with five golds at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games?

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Youth was served in the gold-medal final of Paralympic sledge hockey. Yet it was the game itself, still in its relative infancy in terms of development, that was the big winner after a terrific set of playoff-round games at UBC's Thunderbird Arena.

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia —

Apolo Anton Ohno threw up his arms in a what-can-I-do gesture and smiled.

The American short track speedskater had just been disqualified in the 500 meters, but he wasn't leaving the Vancouver Olympics empty-handed Friday night.

Ohno returned later and anchored the United States to a bronze-medal finish in the chaotic 5,000 relay, giving him his eighth career medal.

It was Ohno's third medal of these games, to go with a silver and another bronze that made him America's most decorated Winter Olympian. He already has the most short track medals of any skater.

The 45-lap relay ended a wild final night of short track, marked by crashes, disqualifications and capricious skating.

It also might have been the final Olympic race of Ohno's stellar career. He is contemplating retirement, although U.S. national coach Jimmy Jang is hoping to convince the 27-year-old skater from Seattle to compete in a fourth Olympics in 2014.

"I never say never," Ohno said. "I need a break from this sport that's been very good to me."

Ohno remade himself in the months leading up to the games, slimming down to 142 pounds - 25 less than he weighed at his first Olympics in 2002.

"Apolo is an incredible athlete," U.S. teammate Katherine Reutter said. "He works harder than anyone I know."

Ohno skated the final two laps of the U.S. relay, sticking out his left skate at the finish before getting edged by South Korea's Kwak Yoon-gy. Canada won the gold and South Korea earned the silver.

"This is very important for me," Ohno said, referring to his eighth medal. "I train with these guys year-round. They pour their heart and soul into this sport as well. I want to be able to share a medal with these guys and we did. We delivered."

Ohno slapped hands and exchanged hugs with teammates J.R. Celski, Travis Jayner and Jordan Malone. He waved to the crowd before skating to the boards and hugging an ecstatic Jang, a longtime friend.

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Ohno then skated over to congratulate the Canadians, nearly stepping on their Maple Leaf flag. He also shook hands with his South Korean rivals.

"He's a very excellent athlete, exceptional in every way," China's Han Jialiang said.

On the podium, a roar went up as Ohno's name was announced and the medal slipped over his slicked-back hair. He held up his bronze in one hand and waved his bouquet in the other.

Yves Hamelin, Canada's team leader, said he ranks Ohno among the top five best short track skaters, along with some of the South Koreans.

"He's one of the smartest racers," he said. "We have to really give a great respect to Apolo."

Lee Ho-suk, one of Ohno's longtime Korean rivals, said: "We have some good memories and we also have some bad memories of Ohno. I will be sorry to see him leave the world of short track when he does."

The medal salvaged the night for Ohno after he was disqualified in the 500, apparently for causing a crash in the final turn. He crossed the finish line second behind Canada's Charles Hamelin, whose momentum spun him into the middle of the ice as the race ended.

Ohno was in last place when he tried to go inside of Canadian Francois-Louis Tremblay to move up on the final turn. The American's right leg appeared to hit Tremblay and he crashed into the padding.

South Korea's Sung Si-bak also went down, although it appeared he lost his balance.

"There was no space between the skaters," Ohno said. "There was a fast pace from the beginning. I had so much speed that I put my hand up to not run into the Canadian before me. I guess the judge saw something I didn't."

After several minutes of discussion, during which Ohno skated calmly around the ice, the referees DQ'd him. He smiled, fully aware of the unpredictable nature of his sport.

"I thought I was going to be able to snag another silver," he said. "The referees didn't see it that way."

Ohno managed to get past crashes in both his previous heats to advance to the 500 final, which he won four years ago in Turin. Hamelin won the gold. Sung took silver and Tremblay got bronze.

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