What's buzzing:

Eight years on, Ahn returns to win gold for Russia

Reuters
Victor An of Russia reacts as he wins the men's 1,000 metres short track speed skating final event at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics
.

View photo

Victor An of Russia reacts as he wins the men's 1,000 metres short track speed skating final event …

By Julian Linden

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Viktor Ahn kissed the ice and paraded the Russian flag after winning gold for his adopted country in the 1,000 meters short track speed skating at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Saturday.

Grabbing a pair of flags, he handed one to his team mate Vladimir Grigorev, who had claimed silver, before the pair embarked on a victory lap that had one nation cheering and another fuming.

"Of course I'm happy. I'm very happy," said Ahn. "But I'm even more happy because Russia managed to win both the gold and silver."

Competing under his original name Ahn Hyun-soo, he won three gold medals for South Korea at the 2006 Olympics in Turin before a bitter fall-out with officials in his country of birth.

He failed to qualify for the 2010 Vancouver Games then decided to switch allegiances to Russia and changed his name, even though he did not speak the language or have any relatives in the country.

Earlier this week, South Korean President Park Geun-hye ordered a government ministry to investigate how one of the country's top athletes had ended up competing for a rival.

Ahn's win, in one of the premier events in short track speedskating, confirmed his place as one of the sport's greats.

"It's my first gold medal in eight years. When I finished first, my head went blank. It's unbelievable," he said.

"I was touched by the loud applause the Russian spectators gave me....today's result proves that my decision was right. That's why today is so meaningful."

For Ahn, victory was made all the sweeter by the fact South Korea, the sport's traditional powerhouse, has still not won a gold medal in short track at Sochi.

Just moments before his win, South Korean teenage world champion Shim Suk-hee had to settle for silver in the women's 1,500m. The men's 1000m world champion, South Korea's Sin Da-wan, failed to win a medal in that final, with the bronze going to Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands.

"I had no idea Russia was such a strong short track country. It's my first Olympics in my home country. I'm so grateful for all the support people have given me here," Ahn said.

Grigorev was also representing his adopted country for the first time at the Olympics after changing citizenship. He competed for Ukraine at the past two Games.

"I made a choice to come to Russia," he said. "I wanted great competition and the coaches are better here."

From the outset it was clear the Russians were going to be hard to beat. They made a clean getaway and went straight into the lead, where they were able to control the race.

The two traded places early on, but none of the other competitors managed to get past them and they dashed across the line to deafening roars inside the Iceberg Skating Palace.

"It was our strategy - for me to block out the skaters, to hold them back," said Grigorev. "And for us to go fast so it would be impossible for the other athletes to chase us."

(Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
View Comments (4)
  • Obama welcomes relatives of 1936 African-American Olympians

    Obama welcomes relatives of 1936 African-American Olympians

    Relatives of Jesse Owens and America's 17 other black athletes from the 1936 Olympics were welcomed to the White House on Thursday by President Barack Obama for the acknowledgement they didn't receive along with their white counterparts 80 years … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 2 minutes ago
  • Obama celebrates 2016 Olympic athletes at White House

    Obama celebrates 2016 Olympic athletes at White House

    President Barack Obama welcomed the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House on Thursday to celebrate their record-breaking run in Rio. Hundreds of Olympic athletes clad in red Nike track jackets squeezed into the East Room of the … More »

    Reuters - 2 hours 19 minutes ago
  • 1936 Olympians receive overdue recognition at White House

    1936 Olympians receive overdue recognition at White House

    Shortly after Jesse Owens returned home from his snubbing by Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympics, he and America's 17 other black Olympians found a less-than-welcoming reception from their own government, as well. On Thursday, relatives of those 1936 … More »

    AP - Sports - 7 hours ago
  • Jutanugarn leads by 1 stroke in Beijing

    Jutanugarn leads by 1 stroke in Beijing

    Ariya Jutanugarn birdied the final four holes for an 8-under 65 and a one-stroke lead over Brooke Henderson on Thursday in the Reignwood LPGA Classic. In position to take player of the year lead from idle Lydia Ko with a ninth-place finish or … More »

    AP - Sports - 8 hours ago
  • Raised-fist protesters Smith, Carlos support Kaepernick

    Raised-fist protesters Smith, Carlos support Kaepernick

    Tommie Smith and John Carlos were proud to raise their gloved fists in a symbolic protest at the Olympics, and now they're proud that Colin Kaepernick and other athletes are staging national anthem protests to raise awareness about racial inequality … More »

    AP - Sports - 8 hours ago