Ahn's gold hard for South Koreans to swallow

Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:45am EST
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By Narae Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) - Seeing Viktor Ahn draped in the Russian flag and crying tears of joy after winning short track gold for his adopted country has prompted an outpouring of fury in South Korea towards the country's skating union (KSU).

Ahn won three gold medals for South Korea at the 2006 Turin Games under the name Ahn Hyun-soo but after falling out with the KSU and being left out of the team for Vancouver he turned his back on his homeland and took Russian nationality.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has already ordered a government ministry to find out how one of the country's top athletes ended up competing for a Winter Games rival.

Simmering anger over the KSU's role in his departure, and other coaching controversies, boiled over with Ahn's win in the 1,000 meters at the Sochi Games on Saturday.

The KSU website was shut down overnight due to heavy traffic as sports fans tried to vent their anger on the site.

South Korean sports pages and news sites lauded Ahn and lambasted the KSU on Sunday.

"The Return of the Emperor!" proclaimed the Hankook Ilbo, "Ahn is writing his own history," said Sports Seoul.

The Korean Economic daily said the storm caused by Ahn's gold would shake up the KSU.   Continued...

Viktor Ahn (front) of Russia competes in the men's 1500m final race during the ISU Short Track World Cup speed skating competition in Shanghai December 8, 2012. Ahn won the gold medal. REUTERS/Carlos Barria