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Ahn’s gold medal represents his tireless efforts

Posted February. 17, 2014 07:35,   


His name is Ahn Hyun-soo in Korean and Viktor Ahn in Russian. He got down all fours and kissed the ice after crossing the finish line first in the men’s 1,000-meter short track speed skating final in Sochi on Sunday. While Russian spectators shouted for joy, Koreans had mixed feelings. The ice that Ahn loved did not betray him. He had lots twists and turns for the past eight years -- from when he won three gold medals in the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics for Korea until he won a gold medal for Russia. For the first time in the Winter Olympics, he claimed gold medals both as a Korean and a Russian. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official Facebook page showed his picture. He has emerged as a star in Russia as the country’s first short-track speed skating gold medalist.

He is 170 centimeters tall and weighs 65 kilograms. The 29-year-old skater who is smaller in size and older than his competitors won over himself in Sochi as well as in Turin. When he was 16 years old, he won the World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championship. He emerged as the star of short track speed skating after winning three gold medals and one bronze at the 2006 Turin Olympics. Two years before the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, he suffered a knee injury and his team was disbanded. He changed his citizenship to Russia in 2011 after he failed to join the Korean national team. He made the choice to participate in the Olympics again and to continue his favorite sport. He delivered a bronze medal in the 1,500-meter competition and a gold medal in the 1,000-meter race to Russia, which did not spare time and money for him.

His nationality change has emerged as a hot topic of debate in Korea and it was even reported to President Park Geun-hye. Truth needs to be told about this – whether Ahn was the victim of political fights within the skating community or he changed his citizenship for his dream – but we should not be obsessed with the nationality issue. A former Canadian ice hockey player and a former Chinese short-track speed skater are working for Korean athletes to increase their chance of winning an Olympic medal and improve their performance. Koreans root for Ahn in a Russian uniform.

After tireless efforts, he overcame his injury and skated faster than others with excellent skills. This represents the victory of his unwavering will in the face of challenges. We give a round of applause to the short-track “czar” for his comeback.