Eight years on, Ahn returns to win gold for Russia

Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:00am EST
 
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By Julian Linden

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Viktor Ahn kissed the ice and paraded the Russian flag after winning gold for his adopted country in the 1,000 meters short track speed skating at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Saturday.

Grabbing a pair of flags, he handed one to his team mate Vladimir Grigorev, who had claimed silver, before the pair embarked on a victory lap that had one nation cheering and another fuming.

"Of course I'm happy. I'm very happy," said Ahn. "But I'm even more happy because Russia managed to win both the gold and silver."

Competing under his original name Ahn Hyun-soo, he won three gold medals for South Korea at the 2006 Olympics in Turin before a bitter fall-out with officials in his country of birth.

He failed to qualify for the 2010 Vancouver Games then decided to switch allegiances to Russia and changed his name, even though he did not speak the language or have any relatives in the country.

Earlier this week, South Korean President Park Geun-hye ordered a government ministry to investigate how one of the country's top athletes had ended up competing for a rival.

Ahn's win, in one of the premier events in short track speedskating, confirmed his place as one of the sport's greats.

"It's my first gold medal in eight years. When I finished first, my head went blank. It's unbelievable," he said.   Continued...

 
Victor An of Russia reacts as he wins the men's 1,000 metres short track speed skating final event at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson