South Korean-born Russian short tracker Victor An said Friday he plans to retire after the next Winter Olympics in his native land.
An, born Hyun-soo in South Korea and a Russian citizen since 2011, traveled to Seoul to receive an award from his alma mater, Korea National Sport University, for his athletic accomplishments.
After the awards ceremony, the 30-year-old said his goal is to retire in style after competing at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
"I wanted to retire after the Sochi Winter Olympics (in 2014), but I decided to extend my career a bit longer after speaking with the head of the Russian skating federation," An said. "I am training hard with an eye on the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. I want to pour my last ounce of energy into PyeongChang."
An, the most decorated Olympic short tracker with eight medals, said he should have taken some time off after Sochi. Instead, he had to compete in multiple races "for different reasons." He has been taking some time off this season to rest his ailing knees.
"I've been to Germany and several other places for treatment,"
he said. "Doctors have told me undergoing surgery would jeopardize my career. So I think I will have to skate through pain until I retire. I am trying to add muscle to relieve the pain."
An didn't compete in the International Skating Union (ISU) World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Seoul last weekend, but he did train with South Korean short track star Shim Suk-hee after the competition. An said he also worked out with Lee Seung-hoon, a former short tracker who has won Olympic gold in speed skating.
An won three gold medals for South Korea at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, and added three more gold medals in Sochi two years ago for Russia. He said his goal for PyeongChang is to win more gold medals, but added, "I won't get too caught up with results. You can't win gold medals on desire alone."
An said he has received permission from the Russian federation to train in South Korea. His wife, Woo Na-ri, recently gave birth to a girl here, too.
The young family will return to Russia in two weeks.
"The new season will begin in October and I will prepare for it in Russia," he said. "There will be an Olympic test event in Korea in December and I plan to take part in it to see the new arena." (Yonhap)