Russian sports minister lauds comeback plans of six-time Olympic Champ Viktor Ahn

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MOSCOW, February 13. /TASS/. Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said on Wednesday he believed it was a well-considered decision of the six-time Olympic Champion in short track speed skating Viktor Ahn to announce his comeback and vie for more Olympic medals.

South Korea’s daily Kyunghyang Shinmun reported earlier in the day citing world’s famous short track speed skater Viktor Ahn, 33, as saying that he intended to make a comeback with the Russian national team of short track speed skating and vie for medals at the 2022 Winter Olympics in China.

In early September 2018, Alexei Kravtsov, the president of the Russian Speed Skating Union (RSSU), announced that Russian national Viktor Ahn had decided to wrap up with his sports career.

“Ahn is loved in Russia as an outstanding athlete, who made a considerable contribution to developing the sport of short track speed skating in our country, as a wonderful and strong-willed person, who managed to start from scratch and earn the deserved success,” the Russian Sports Ministry quoted Kolobkov as saying in its statement.

“I met Ahn on numerous occasions and can say that if he made a decision to return to sports, then his decision is weighted and well-considered,” Kolobkov said, “I am glad that he is ready to be back on the global sports arena.”

Viktor Ahn was born in South Korea’s Seoul as Ahn Hyun-soo and initially competed for his native country’s team. At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy’s Turin he brought South Korea three golds and one bronze medal in short track.

After the 2006 Olympics in Turin, a string of injuries kept him sidelined from major short track competitions and before the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada’s Vancouver he failed to qualify for the South Korean national team.

In 2011, he was granted Russian citizenship and announced his decision to speed skate for Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where he clinched three gold medals and one bronze medal.

He is also the six-time Overall World Champion, winning the titles in 2003-2007 and in 2014.

In late 2017, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended the membership of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) over doping abuse allegations but allowed clean Russian athletes to participate in the 2018 Winter Games under the Olympic flag and in the neutral status of an Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR).

Viktor Ahn was not among the Russian athletes to receive an invitation from the IOC and missed the 2018 Olympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang.

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