Viktor An (Russian: Виктор Ан; born Ahn Hyun-soo (Korean: 안현수) on November 23, 1985), is a retired South Korean-born Russian short-track speed-skater. After competing for South Korea since childhood, in 2011 he became a Russian citizen and raced for the Russian team. One of the most accomplished short track speed skaters of all time, An won three gold medals and a bronze medal in 2006 Winter Olympics, becoming the most successful athlete there. He has also won three gold medals and one bronze medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics. An is a six-time Overall World Champion for 2003–2007 and 2014.
|Birth name||Ahn Hyun-soo|
|Born||November 23, 1985|
Seoul, South Korea
|Height||1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|Weight||65 kg (143 lb)|
|Country|| South Korea (until 2011)|
Russia (since 2011)
|Sport||Short track speed skating|
|Coached by||Andrey Maximov (national)|
Alexander Gertsikov (personal)
|Achievements and titles|
|World finals||World Championship|
|Personal best(s)||500 m: 39.961 (2019)|
1,000 m: 1:23.487 (2013)
1,500 m: 2:10.639 (2003, Former WR)
3,000 m: 4:32.646 (2003, Former WR)
|Revised Romanization||Biktoreu An|
|Revised Romanization||An Hyeonsu|
After winning gold in Sochi, Ahn explained his reasons for joining the Russian team saying, "I wanted to train in the best possible environment and I proved my decision was not wrong." As expected, a gold-winning athlete leaving the national team caused public uproar in South Korea. However, it was aimed not at Ahn, but at the country's skating union. Most South Korean fans in a poll said they understood Ahn's decision. Ahn received the Order "For Merit to the Fatherland" Award 4th class with Russian President Vladimir Putin handing the state awards.
Ahn was banned from participating in the 2018 Olympic Games in his native South Korea following a decision by the IOC amidst alleged Russia's sports doping scandal of 2016–2017. The IOC did not disclose the specific reasons but mentioned "lingering suspicions" about doping use.
Early life and educationEdit
Ahn began skating in 1993 in his first year of primary school. The first time he watched the sport on television was during the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer where one of his heroes, Chae Ji-hoon, took gold in the 500 m and silver in the 1,000 m for South Korea. Incidentally, these were the Games where Russia achieved a national record of 11 Olympic golds, a feat that he himself would help to repeat twenty years later. His coach, Kim Ki-hoon, was a three-time Olympic gold medalist who scouted Ahn and continues to train him. He trains ten hours every day from techniques, speed, and endurance to video analysis.
Ahn participated in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, making the finals of the 1,000 meter short course event but returned home without a medal after a controversial fall involving Apolo Ohno, Li Jiajun, and Mathieu Turcotte allowed Australian Steve Bradbury to sweep the gold medal.
After the 2002 OlympicsEdit
Ahn won the world junior short track championship in 2002, and finished second to Kim Dong-sung at his first senior-level world championship competition the same year, almost duplicating Kim's feat of winning both the Junior and Senior World Championship titles in 1997. Ahn finished first in the overall World Cup rankings during 2003–2004 and 2005–2006 seasons.
At the 2006 Winter Olympics, Ahn won gold medals in the 1,500 m and 1000 m events. He set a new Olympic record time of 1:26.739 in the 1000 m, finishing ahead of teammate Lee Ho-suk and rival Ohno. Ahn also won gold in men's 5,000 m relay along with teammates Lee Ho-suk, Seo Ho-jin, and Song Suk-woo. He became the second South Korean athlete ever to win three gold medals in one Olympics. (Jin Sun-yu accomplished this earlier on the same day.) Ahn also won a bronze medal in the 500 m event. Rarely taking the lead position throughout the entire race, Ahn's strategy is to follow the leaders, then sprint using an outside passing lane (or occasionally an inside passing lane if the opportunity arises) with only two or three laps to go. In the 5,000 m relay at the 2006 Winter Olympics, he made a brilliant pass around defending Olympic champion Canada on the final lap, helping South Korea earn the victory. Sports commentators often refer to his "patented outside pass" due to its consistency and effectiveness.
Ahn won four medals at the 2006 Games, an unprecedented result by any athlete in his sport. He is the first South Korean man to win at least 3 medals in a single Winter Olympics.
After the OlympicsEdit
Despite being disqualified in the finals of the 500 m and 3,000 m events at the 2006 World Championships in Minneapolis, Ahn was able to claim the championship with victories in both the 1,000 m and 1,500 m events and became the overall world champion with 68 points followed by countryman Lee Ho-suk with 60 points.
After the 2006 World Championships, Ahn flew back to South Korea. At Incheon International Airport, Ahn's father had a loud quarrel with the vice president of the Korean Skating Union (KSU), claiming that the coach did not associate with Ahn and conspired with other skaters to prevent Ahn from winning the title of overall champion.
The South Korean short track team was split into two groups, in one of which Ahn was being coached by the women's coach due to conflicts with the men's coach. The tensions had risen so high that the skaters refused to dine in the same room, sit next to each other on the plane, or even share the same floor with each other. Ahn and Lee Ho-suk used to attend the same high school together, and even shared a room the previous year in skating camps, but since then have rarely spoken to each other.
Ahn mentioned on his personal website that the pressure was too much for him and he contemplated quitting the sport. Due to the issue, KSU stated that starting next season, the team would be united under one head coach to prevent deleterious rivalries.
After the conflictEdit
At the 2007 World Championships held in Milan, Italy from March 9 to March 11, 2007, Ahn won his fifth world championship, finishing first in the 1,000 m and in the 5,000 m relay with teammates, Sung Si-bak, Song Kyung-taek, and Kim Hyun-kon. He also won silver in the 3,000 m behind his compatriot Song Kyung-taek, and won two bronze medals in the 500 m and the 1500 m. He is the first man to win five world championships.
Ahn is the only male short track skater to have won at least three consecutive world championships (having won five in a row); Canadian short track legend Marc Gagnon has won four times, but his titles did not come back to back.
Early 2008 season injuryEdit
On January 16, 2008, the Korean Skating Union (KSU) announced that Ahn had injured his knee after colliding with a fence during national team training at the Korea Training Center in Taeneung. After being sent to the hospital, the injury was diagnosed as a fractured knee.
Due to the injury, KSU announced that Ahn would not be competing in the ISU Samsung World Cup Series 5 and 6 in Quebec City and Salt Lake City, respectively. It was also reported that he would not be competing in the 2008 World Championships in Gangneung or the 2008 World Team Championships in Harbin, China. As a result of the unexpected injury, it was clear that Ahn would be unable to defend his sixth World title, leaving his countrymen Lee Ho-suk, Song Kyung-taek, and Lee Seung-hoon to make up the ground. After undergoing three surgeries, his rehabilitation period was predicted to be around 2–3 months.
After eight months off the ice, a South Korean news article reported on September 5, 2008 that Ahn was back training, undergoing approximately two hours of physical reinforcement and skating along with around five hours of rehabilitation accompanied by muscular power training. The article also reported that Ahn was eyeing the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.
Missing out on the 2010 Winter Olympics and defection to RussiaEdit
During the South Korean national team trials, which ultimately determine the Fall World Cup and Olympic Teams, Ahn was unable to qualify, finishing 7th in overall points (because Ahn did not compete in the last two World Cup seasons, he needed to finish in the top three in overall points to qualify). Due to his inability to qualify, he did not compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Despite this, Ahn competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia as a Russian citizen.
Ahn was the leader in the 3,000 meters for the 2011–2012 season. He was also the leader of the 5,000 meter relay team event.
2014 Winter OlympicsEdit
At the 2014 Winter Olympics, Ahn won the bronze medal in the 1,500 m event. He won the first short track speed skating medal that Russia has earned while competing for the Russia team. Ahn then won the first Russian gold medal in short track, winning the 1,000 m event, leading the first Russian 1–2 finish in short track, with Vladimir Grigorev winning silver. On February 21, Ahn won his seventh overall and fifth Winter Olympic gold medal when he finished first in the 500 m men's final. With that gold medal, he became the first short track skater to win all four Olympic golds, the 500 m, 1,000 m, 1,500 m, 5,000 m relay. He also became the short track speed skater with the most Olympic gold medals, with five, which increased to six with a 5,000 m relay win later the same day. With that gold, he became the short tracker with the most Olympic medals, at eight, tied with Apolo Ohno; he also became the short tracker with the most Olympic gold medals, at six.
After the OlympicsEdit
After the 2014 Olympics, Ahn coached short track for Russia, and continued skating. At the 2017 European Championships, Ahn won the bronze in 500 m and the silver in 500 m relay, and at the 2018 European Championships, he won the silver in the 500 m. Ahn had planned to retire after the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, but missed out on the Olympics for a second time, in the wake of the alleged sports doping in Russia. IOC did not disclose the specific reasons but mentioned "lingering suspicions" about doping use.
Ahn is married to Woo Nari (Korean: 우나리, born 1983), an ethnic Korean who moved to Russia in 2013 and received Russian citizenship. Nari was a member of Ahn's fan club. Ahn said that her presence and care helped him adapt to Russia. They have a daughter.
Ahn trained in Russia and received Russian citizenship to compete for Russia in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Ahn's father stated that the decision was due to lack of support from the South Korean skating association. Prior to moving to Russia, Ahn did not know the Russian language and had no familial ties to Russia. He had considered competing for the United States, but found that the process for gaining Russian citizenship was much easier. He chose "Viktor" as his Russian name as it derived from Victory, and to pay tribute to Viktor Tsoi, a Soviet rock star of ethnic Korean descent.
In South Korea, a furor erupted over the loss of Ahn to Team Russia, after his participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Several newspapers reported the scorn of the South Korean public and newspaper editors on the actions of the skating federation. The minister of sport and president of South Korea both promised action in rooting out corruption and feuding at the organization that may have led to his "defection", in a bid to clean it up in preparation for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. The South Korean public is generally supportive of Ahn. In September 2018, Ahn announced his retirement from short track and moved back to South Korea.
- Victor An. sports-reference.com
- Victor An. International Skating Union
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- Beth Harris (February 21, 2014). "Viktor Ahn of Russia wins 2 short track golds". Yahoo! Sports. Associated Press.
- Alexander Vilf (2014-02-11). "Viktor Ahn to Coach Russian Short-Track Speedskaters". R-Sport. RIA Novosti. Archived from the original on February 15, 2014.
- Виктор Ан стал третьим на чемпионате Европы по шорт-треку на дистанции 500 метров. Gazeta.ru (14 January 2017). Retrieved on January 14, 2018.
- Россияне завоевали серебро в эстафете на чемпионате Европы по шорт-треку. Tass.ru (January 15, 2017). Retrieved on January 14, 2018.
- Naturalized Russian short tracker to retire after Olympics in native land. Korea Herald (March 18, 2016).
- "Exclusive: How Viktor Ahn missed out on his chance for redemption in PyeongChang". Aips Media. February 12, 2018. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- 우나리 was born in 1983.9.10. Search.daum.net. Retrieved on 2018-01-14.
- "Корейцы в восторге от девушки Виктора Ана" [South Koreans are thrilled by Ahn's girl] (in Russian). Rossiyskaya Gazeta. February 9, 2014. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
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- "У Виктора Ана родилась дочь" [Viktor An has a daughter] (in Russian). Radio Vesti. December 30, 2015. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
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- "Six-time Olympic Champion Viktor Ahn announced retirement". Championat. September 5, 2018.
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