Speedskater Denny Morrison wins surprise silver

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 13, 2014 at 7:24 am •  Published: February 13, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — A text message popped up on Denny Morrison's cell phone: "Are you ready for a 1,000 meters? Yea or nay?"

At first, the 28-year-old Canadian speedskater wasn't sure who it was from. Once he realized it was Gilmore Junio, Morrison figured his teammate was joking around.

Morrison didn't qualify for the 1,000 in the Sochi Olympics after he fell at the Canadian trials. Junio was offering up his spot in the race, a gesture Morrison at first found hard to believe.

He paid back the favor on Wednesday, earning a silver medal. It was Morrison's third career Olympic medal and first in an individual race. It also was Canada's first medal in five days of speedskating.

"It's a fairytale story for me," Morrison said. "I can't really believe it."

Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands won the gold in 1 minute, 8.39 seconds. Morrison was clocked in 1:08.43. Groothuis' teammate, Michel Mulder, took the bronze in 1:08.74.

"It's unprecedented that someone qualifies for the Olympics and gives up their spot to allow a teammate to take it," Morrison said. "I knew when Gilmore gave up that spot I had a job to do, and I felt ready. I had the best 1,000 meter I've had in two years."

Junio finished 10th in the 500 on Monday. Afterward, the Canadian coaches approached him about ceding his berth in the 1,000 to Morrison, who is his country's strongest skater at the longer distance.

"It was a no brainer for Denny to be in there instead of me," Junio said. "I knew he had a good chance to get a medal after I saw him skate these past two weeks. He did it, it's pretty incredible, and all props go to him."

Morrison and Junio hugged each other after the flower ceremony at Adler Arena.

"I actually feel like I want to cut the medal in half and give him half," Morrison said. "He deserves it."

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