Viktor Ahn Announces Retirement from Speed Skating

  • By Mun Hyun-wung

    April 29, 2020 11:13

    Six-time Olympic gold medalist Viktor Ahn has announced his retirement from short track speed skating.

    Russian state news agency TASS on Monday quoted Alexei Kravtsov, the president of the Russian Skating Union, as saying he had received a letter from Ahn "stating his decision to wrap up his sports career."

    In the letter, Ahn said he is experiencing permanent knee pain, making it hard to train effectively and requiring more and more time to recover and rehabilitate after each competition. He had therefore decided it is time to quit the sport, Kravtsov said. Ahn also thanked all those who had helped him during his career, he said.

    Viktor Ahn /Yonhap

    Ahn won three gold medals and one bronze for Korea at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and won five consecutive World Championship titles from 2003 to 2007.

    But then he went through a slump as a knee injury plagued him and his training team was disbanded due to financial problems. He participated in the national team trials but failed to qualify for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

    In 2011, he became a naturalized Russian in order to return to the sport and won three gold medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

    With six gold medals, he is the most decorated short track speed skater in Olympic history.

    Ahn originally planned to retire after the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, but the International Olympic Committee suspended Russia from the event over the country’s state-sponsored doping scandal. Ahn was not included in the IOC's list of eligible Russian athletes to compete at Pyeongchang, although there was no direct evidence of his involvement in doping.

    Kravtsov said Ahn would continue to coach during his retirement, but not in Russia. He added that China is seeking top experts to work as coaches, and Ahn certainly fits the bill.

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