Recently, much attention has been drawn towards the Sochi Winter Olympics and its extraordinary athletes. One such athlete who has been embroiled with glory and controversy alike is the short track speed skater Victor Ahn. Previously representing South Korea, Ahn is the only man to have won three consecutive world championships in a row; however, in 2011 Ahn changed allegiances and now competes with a Russian flag embroidered on his uniform. He earned a gold medal at the Winter Olympics, adding a fourth gold to Russia’s medal tally. This has caused an outburst in South Korea as many of its citizens have recognized that they have lost an important and highly capable athlete and blames the Korean Skating Union for the loss.
The conflict between Victor Ahn and the Korean Skating Union can be traced back to the 2006 World Championships, wherein the Korean skating teams were divided into two factions. With fierce and intense rivalries, the two groups refused to be in the same rooms with one another. Upon his return from the championship, Ahn, his father and the Vice president of the Skating Union were embroiled in heated argument as the Vice President was accused of refusing to associate with Ahn and thwarting his chances at victory. Since then, a combination of multiple factors has led Ahn to join the Russian skating team.
On the other hand, Russian officials and fans alike have embraced Ahn as one of their own and thoroughly supported him in his endeavors. Russian President Vladimir Putin himself has changed his Facebook page cover photo to commemorate Ahn’s achievements. This is not to say that South Koreans fans have condemned Ahn. For the most part he still receives goodwill and support from his native country as he continues to develop and advance himself in the sport.
Written by, Joe Flynn, 11
Photograph by, RIA Novosti (hyperlink)