When Russia’s Viktor Ahn won gold in men’s 1,000-meter short-track skating, outshining his former teammate Sin Da-woon of Korea on the ice on Saturday night, his father had mixed feelings about his victory.
“It is painful that Ahn is sharing his joy with Russians, not Koreans,” Ahn Gi-won told the Korean news agency Yonhap.
The mostly Russian crowd at Iceberg Skating Palace erupted in celebration as Ahn crossed the finish line. The gold medalist waved the Russian flag on his victory lab and sang the Russian national anthem after earning his adopted country the gold medal.
“As a Korean, I wish he were singing the Korean national anthem,” his father added.
Viktor Ahn, whose Korean name is Ahn Hyun-soo, won five world championship titles, as well as three Olympic gold medals for South Korea.
However, he sustained a serious knee injury in 2008 which kept him out of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. At age 26, he was getting old for a short track skater and was unsure whether he could rejoin the Olympic team after his recovery.
Ahn decided to switch allegiances to Russia in 2011, adopt the Russian name Viktor and skate for his adopted homeland Russia.
“However much he tried in South Korea, he could have no opportunity to recover his reputation,” Ahn’s father was quoted as saying.
The father of the skating star also expressed the wish for a change in the Korea Skating Federation, so that there are no more victims like his son in Korea.
Meanwhile, the website of the Korean Skating Federation crashed on Sunday after being bombarded with angry comments by Koreans laying blame on the organization for “kicking out” Ahn.
By Ock Hyun-ju, Intern reporter (firstname.lastname@example.org)