August 18, 2011 11:24
Short track star Ahn Hyun-soo has applied for Russian citizenship, he confirmed on his website on Wednesday.
This is a preliminary move for the skater, who has notched an impressive haul of five world titles and three Olympic gold medals in his illustrious career, to represent Russia when it hosts the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.
"I decided to become a naturalized Russian because this provided me a better environment to focus on my training," he said. "I will definitely compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi."
"Initially, I mistakenly thought that I could hold dual citizenship. I feel bad about not thinking about it more seriously," he added.
"There may be some people who view my decision in a negative light, but I will do my best so I don't have any regrets about my decision."
If Ahn obtains Russian citizenship, he will lose his Korean nationality under Korea's Nationality Act.
An official at the Korea Sports Promotion Foundation said, "Ahn submitted documents regarding his emigration early this month, and received a lump sum of his sports pension." He had previously been receiving the money, which he earned by virtue of his success at international sporting events, on a monthly basis.
Ahn plans to compete in international events for Russia starting next year after going through national team tryouts.
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