The most decorated South Korean skater on the ice in Sochi has been wearing a Russian uniform. Recently naturalized Ahn Hyun-soo, (who changed his name to Viktor Ahn) took the extraordinary step of skating for another country after bitter clashes with the Korean Skating Union (KSU), the country’s officiating body for competitive skating. Netizens placed the blame for the move squarely on the KSU and sympathized with Ahn’s struggle to escape the politics and continue competing.
Article from SportsChosun:
“To Junior Korean Skaters, I Feel Sorrow and Regret” Viktor Ahn says in First Interview
Eight year Olympic medalist Viktor Ahn, 29, is in the spotlight.
On February 10th(KST) at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, Ahn took home the bronze in the men’s 500 meter short-track event at the Iceberg Skating Palace.
The medal is the first for Russia, which has never placed in short track events. Ahn is a three-time gold medalist, winning gold for South Korea in the men’s 1,000m, 1,500m and 5,000m relay in the 2006 Torino Winter Olympic Games.
At Torino, Ahn also took home a bronze in the men’s 500m relay, making him the first athlete to have stood on the medal podium for all the speed skating competitions. The “Emperor on Short Track” has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with.
In a press meeting after winning the bronze, Ahn talked about his decision to compete as a naturalized Russian in the Sochi Olympics, “It was not an easy one. I am so glad to take part in the Olympics again. Winning the bronze medal was a load off my mind, and will make it easier to focus on competing at other events.
As for questions over his not so easy decision, Ahn said, “The decision was not easy because of the change in my nationality and also because I wasn’t sure whether I could even make it to the Olympic games after recovering from my injury. I am so happy to be able to stand on this world stage. This was an even more enjoyable experience than Torino. The bronze medal is significant. In particular, I’d like to emphasize the fact that this medal is Russia’s first in short track events.
A knee injury suffered in 2008 ended Ahn’s unstoppable winning streak, and sidelined him for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Ahn made up his mind to shift his allegiance to Russia after a deteriorating relationship with the Korea Skating Union(KSU) and the breakup of his team put his athletic career in jeopardy. He knew that his decision would prompt criticism.
In the press conference, Ahn spoke in Korean. Ahn said, “I am trying to learn the Russian language but I am not good at it, though I can make myself understood with my fellow Russian athletes. I am now on better terms with Russian athletes.”
“What is important is being with the other athletes. I am trying to work together with them. I hope to take the gold at the men’s 5,000 meter relay.
He also said that he has no problems in his relationship with Korean athletes. “It’s natural to be competing with other athletes for a gold medal. But our relationship is not at all uncomfortable. Rather, I am very sorry and regret if I have reflected badly on them,” Ahn said as he smiled ruefully.
Ahn is set to compete in the 500m, 1000m and 5,000m relay competitions.
Like other Olympians, I walk into the arena aiming for the gold. That’s why I train hard every day. But that doesn’t mean I’m not satisfied with the bronze I took home. Winning this medal at the first event will help me relax in the remaining events. The men’s 1,000 meter is not as physically challenging. I can do even better later.”
When asked about his future career, Ahn said, “I will sleep on it after the Olympics. I am not sure whether I will compete in the Pyeongchang Olympics. But it is still too early to retire. I will never leave the ice as long as I am confident I can race as an athlete. I’ll do my best until I retire.”
In the 2006 Torino Olympics, Ahn took home all the medals in all the speed skating competitions. The KSU abandoned such a great athlete.
필: [responding to above]
Cheer up Ahn! I hope Ahn will sweep the gold in the remaining events, and squash the KSU.
I think we should shake up the KSU this time. By getting rid of all factions within the KSU, we can have a clean slate like there was with archery.
Some idiots feel inferior and begrudge a genius who is just trying his hardest. Ahn’s case makes my blood boil. Hopefully, Mr. Ahn will win the gold and be recognized in Russia, and lead a happy life while teaching athletes.
Ahn Hyun-soo, You did a superb job! Korean short track speed skaters have shown a lackluster performance, which is a first since I watched speed skating races on TV. The South Korea public is well aware of what the problem is. Get them out of it.
Though you are a naturalized Russian, you are still Korean. I am very proud of you. I think that the KSU idiots should have been expelled overseas.
부르노: [responding to above]
I think the KSU idiots should be branded as an anti-state group, arrested and deported from South Korea after being stripped of all assets.
I rooted for Ahn Hyung-soo while I was watching the competition, though I thought that I should have cheered on the Korean speed skaters. Strange as it may sound, my eyes are fixated on Mr. Ahn. Congratulations to Mr. Ahn for his achievement.
The KSU idiots credit themselves when Korean athletes do well, but when they don’t do well, I think they blame the poor performance on the athletes.
Article from SportsChosun:
Russian President Putin Praised Ahn, Saying, “He demonstrated the spirit of a true Olympian.”
[summary] “Viktor Ahn has shown us what it means to be a true Olympian,” President Vladimir Putin of Russia is quoted as saying when complimenting Viktor Ahn for the bronze he brought his host nation in the men’s 500 meter short track race. Putin added, “He represents Russia well in one of the most interesting and greatest sporting events.”
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also praised Viktor Ahn, saying, “His achievement is a big contribution to the success of Russia’s team. I hope he will be also blessed in the other speed skating events.”
Comments from Daum:
In South Korea, an athlete cries bitterly over a bronze medal because it is not the gold, and the bronze doesn’t excite the people.
Ahn is a great Russian, shamefully abandoned by Korea.