SOCHI, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- The long-anticipated Olympic women's 3,000m short track relay final went awry on Tuesday as defending champion China was disqualified for impeding and South Korea retained the title.
The South Korean team of Cho Ha-Ri, Kim Alang, Park Seung-Hi and Shim Suk Hee clocked four minutes and 9.498 seconds for the gold and the Chinese team crossed the finish second but was disqualified for impeding on the final lap.
Canada, which clocked 4:10.641, was awarded the silver and Italy had the bronze in 4:14.014.
Italian Arianna Fontana crashed during an exchange midway, causing her team to fall off place.
Commenting on disqualification, Chinese coach Li Yan said: "Zhou Yang lingered on the rink, keeping herself two or three meters from rival contenders. I think that was acceptable but was ruled as impeding anyway."
"It's a tough call, but a right call," said former Olympic champion Apolo Anton Ohno, now a commentator for NBC.
It was a role reversal from Vancouver 2010, when South Korea was disqualified for impeding with China promoted to the gold medal.
The Chinese team, comprised of Fan Kexin, Liu Qiuhong, Zhou Yang and Li Jianrou, took the lead with 15 laps to go thanks to twice 1,500m Olympic champion Zhou Yang, and had led a total of nine laps of 26 before Shim overtook Li heading into the final turn.
Host Russia won the final B to finish fourth.