• Thu
  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 7:44pm
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SOCHI WINTER OLYMPICS

Fury over Viktor Ahn's 'Russian' gold aimed at Korean Skating Union

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 February, 2014, 9:38pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 February, 2014, 9:39pm

The Olympic victory of a Korean speed skater competing for Russia has triggered outrage in South Korea, where the government announced an inquiry into the national skating body on Monday.

The website of the Korean Skating Union (KSU) crashed on Sunday under the volume of furious messages blaming its officials for the "defection" of Ahn Hyun-soo to the Russian team.

Ahn had become a sporting hero in South Korea after winning three golds at the 2006 Winter Games. However, beset by injury problems and after falling out with South Korean skating officials, he fast-tracked Russian citizenship in 2011, took the name Viktor Ahn, and competed at Sochi as a Russian athlete.

We will review the entire system at the Korea Skating Union to see if there had been any corruption or feuds
Vice Minister Kim Chong

His gold medal victory in the 1,000-metre short track on Saturday provoked a furious response in South Korea - but with the anger directed squarely at the country's skating officials rather than at Ahn himself.

Yesterday's newspapers trumpeted his achievement, while heaping scorn on the "incompetent" KSU. "Vindication for Victor," a headline in the JoongAng Daily said.

Ahn's falling out with the KSU revolved around claims of factional infighting in the South Korean national team based on fierce university loyalties.

Yesterday's Sports Seoul paper devoted three pages to lamenting the turn of events that led to Ahn crossing the finish line in Sochi in a Russian team strip.

And an editorial in the Dong-A Ilbo said it was time "to shed light on the irregularities in our sports system" before the 2018 Winter Games, which will be held in Pyeongchang.

Last week, President Park Geun-hye had demanded an inquiry into the reasons behind Ahn's decision to switch national allegiances. Yesterday the Sports Ministry said it would take action after the Sochi Games were over.

"We will review the entire system at the Korea Skating Union to see if there had been any corruption or feuds in selecting national team skaters and coaches," said Vice Minister Kim Chong.

"Our athletes still have to stay focused on their competition, and so we will not take any steps during the Olympics," Kim said.

The public response in South Korea largely mirrored the media line of applauding Ahn and condemning the KSU.

"We all root for you, Ahn Hyun-Soo! I'm so happy that you won gold instead of our corrupt South Korean team!" wrote a contributor to the overloaded comment forum on one of many web portals where the Ahn debate generated huge traffic.

"Shame on you, Korean Skating Union. You are the one who kicked Ahn out of Korea and you only have yourself to blame for this whole debacle," wrote another contributor.

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kieran.tsao
I agree with Carmen, if there's something wrong with your country, you deal with it within. Did the US ice skating girl of asian origin with gold medal prospects defect to another country because they picked a blonde girl from Germany with not much hope as her replacement, because she was better with sponsors? No.
This is not a football transfer market. It is the Olympics. Where your country of representation should be set in stone - usually the place of birth or where you grew up.
A good example is the star Russian captain of the men's ice hockey team. He plays for an American team in the NHL, thus spends most of his time there. He could easily be accepted into the US team at national level, but he is Russian through and through. So he represents Russia.
kieran.tsao
I agree with Carmen, if there's something wrong with your country, you deal with it within. Did the US ice skating girl of asian origin with gold medal prospects defect to another country because they picked a blonde girl from Germany with not much hope as her replacement, because she was better with sponsors? No.
This is not a football transfer market. It is the Olympics. Where your country of representation should be set in stone - usually the place of birth or where you grew up.
Carmen Perez
He is nothing but a traitor to his nation , I, dislike him very much , hope one day when he want to be back home , I won't be able to do it , TRAITOR
sunnylau54321@gmail.com
Who was betraying who?
I hope you can get some sense, Carmen~
BeoWulfe
You're a fool if that's how you feel, Carmen. The KSU turned their backs on him first. Those who were in charge were wrong to put their own alliances ahead of the good of the team (and the nation). Obviously the people of South Korea understand this and are still proud of him. Most anyway. As an athlete, you only get so many chances to compete at the Olympics, if he hadn't done this he wouldn't have been there at all and South Korea may still not have medaled. Obviously he was still good enough to win but the KSU didn't want to support him. Their loss.
 
 
 
 
 

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