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Li Qishi crowned national champion in women's 1000m speed ska

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CHANGCHUN, China, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Former World Cup champion Li Qishi claimed women's 1000m gold medal in one minute 17.55 seconds in front of her hometown supporters here at the Chinese Speed Skating National Championships on Saturday.

"The performance was just mediocre, certainly not my best," Li said. "But it's acceptable after so many tournaments this season."

Li, after a 10-year training in short track speed skating, switched to speed skating in 2013 and surprisingly qualified for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

She won three World Cup titles in the following two years in team sprint and 1000m, but was in slump since then.

"I believe I made the right choice (switching to speed skating)," the 25-year-old told Xinhua.

"I was a bit down in the last two years, but the result here means I'm back, after systematic training. There's a long way to full recovery, but I think I'm half way through, which gives me confidence to carry on."

Tian Ruining earned a second silver after finishing runner-up in the 500m race on Friday, clocking 1:18.21. Zhao Xin, who returned from the World Single Distances Championships at Inzell, Germany, with a fifth-place ranking in team pursuit, finished third in 1:18.66.

The men's 1000m race witness a breakthrough by 19-year-old Wang Chen, who burst out yelling looking at his 1:11.99 result on the board.

"This is my best performance this season and my PB," Wang said, holding his gold medal. "I was under much pressure after a dissatisfactory performance in the 500m event, and I could finally let out all the emotions today."

2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games winner Liu An settled for a silver 0.16 seconds shy of Wang Chen's result and Wang Shiwei won a bronze 0.11 seconds further behind.

Sunday will be the last match day of the Chinese National Championship when the men's and women's 1500m and mass start competitions will be held at the Jilin Speed Skating Oval.

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