Korean Olympic gold medallist granted Russian citizenship
Sunday, 01 January 2012
January 1 - South Korean short track Olympic gold medallist Ahn Hyun-soo has been formally granted Russian citizenship as he looks to compete at Sochi 2014.
The five-time world champion, who has been training in Russia with the name Victor Ann, is aiming to add to his impressive medal haul in Sochi.
He won three gold medals and a bronze at the Turin Winter Olympics in 2006 and claims that he has had a lack of support from the South Korean skating association despite his exploits over the years.
He failed to make their team for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and says that his South Korean citizenship will now be annulled as he severs all ties with his former homeland.
The Russian President Dmitry Medvedev presented him with citizenship following the signing of a special decree, marking a significant coup for the country ahead of the Winter Olympic Games in 2014 in which they hope to win 12 gold medals.
"I am very glad that everything has worked out," Ahn said in a statement published by the Russian Speed Skating Union.
"I have waited for this for a long time...I hope this name [Victor] brings me success," he added.
The new citizen also explained the choice behind his new name.
"I chose it together with [RSU head] Alexey Kravtsov and my father," he said.
"We considered many options, but decided to stick with this one."
"First of all, the name Viktor is associated with the word 'victory'.
"It's symbolic, as I want this name to bring me luck.
"Secondly, I know of another Korean named Viktor, who is very popular in Russia and is well-known in Korea – Viktor Tsoy.
"I want to be as famous in Russia as he was.
"And third, I was told that Viktor is a name, which is easy to remember for Russian-speakers."
A Korean national, Viktor Tsoy was the leader of the iconic Kino band, which was popular in the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
He died in a car crash in the summer of 1990 at the age of 28, but is still regarded as hero by the young people, with his songs still regularly played on the radio.
October 2011: Soo has sights on Sochi 2014 for Russia after switching citizenship