Ahn Hyun-soo, a three-time Olympic short track gold medalist, left for Russia on Wednesday to extend his career, with his sights set on the 2014 Winter Games.
“It has finally hit me,” Ahn said at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul. “I am worried and yet have high expectations. I will go there and train hard.”
Ahn, who is 25, said he will be training with the Russian national team in Moscow and will receive $10,000 a month from the Russian skating federation.
“I will take some English lessons and also learn Russian,” Ahn said. “I heard they have excellent facilities there. I am looking forward to training in such a good environment.”
Ahn is one of the most decorated short trackers in South Korea, a short track powerhouse with 37 Winter Olympic medals to date. He won five straight overall titles at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships from 2003 to 2007, and won three gold medals at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy.
But Ahn has been in a downward spiral since suffering a career-threatening knee injury in 2008. He missed the national team for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
In another blow, his semi-professional team at Seongnam City Hall folded last year because of financial troubles, leaving Ahn to train alone.
He also failed to qualify for the national team in the latest trials in April.