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SOCHI, February 22, 4:34 /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s Skating Union has never entered into any debates with Americans over “buying” six-time Olympic champion Victor Ahn, President of the Union Alexei Kravtsov said.
“We have been constantly asked about our “buying” Victor,” - Kravtsov told journalists. - “In March 2011, we received a letter from Victor Ahn’s uncle, who is also his agent. The letter said that the athlete wanted to come to Russia to train with our national team. I invited him in Moscow for talks. This is how it started.
Speed-skating superstar Viktor Ahn said after becoming the six-time Olympic champion in Sochi that he had known what hardships he would have to endure when he decided to give up his South Korean citizenship and become a citizen of Russia to be able to compete at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
In 2008, Ahn got an injury while competing for the South Korean national Olympic team. After that he could not qualify for competing at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. In 2011, the athlete came to Russia with an aim to participate in the Sochi Olympics under the Russian flag. Since then, Ahn has not uttered a word on that subject, postponing his conversation with journalists until the end of the Sochi Olympics.
“I wanted to go into any kind of sport but it was impossible to do that in Korea. Russia offered better conditions to me. I did everything I could. Of course, it was not always easy but I wanted to participate in one more Olympics. When I was making that decision, I knew it was going to be a great trial. But I am very grateful to Russia and Alexei Kravtsov, the head of the Russian Speed-Skating Union, for this chance,” Ahn went on to say.
The South Korean press has been spreading rumours that Ahn’s arrival in Russia was linked to nepotism in the South Korean speed-skating federation, and the athlete said that he would like all the rumours to stop.
In Sochi, Viktor Ahn won two individual gold medals in the 500m and 1,000m races and a bronze medal in a 1,500m race. Ahn also took a bronze medal in a 5,000m relay together with the Russians short track team.
Ahn won three gold medals for South Korea at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.
In the meantime, Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Viktor Ahn on his victory in a 500-meter race and the Russian short-track team on winning a 5,000-meter relay on Friday.
“I congratulate you on your second brilliant triumph and a second gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi,” the Russian president said in a telegram addressed to Ahn.
“Once again, you have been faster and more technical than your rivals, literally snatching victory in a very complicated race,” Putin went on to say.
In his greetings to the Russian short-track team, which apart from Ahn includes Semyon Yelistratov, Vladimir Grigoryev and Ruslan Zakharov, Putin said: “You finished very intensive short-track competitions on a high and victorious note. You won a battle of characters and demonstrated top mastery. You were one single team which could not be stopped. You made it a real feast for the crowd that had filled the Iceberg arena.”
The Russian short-trackers have won the 26th medal for the Russian national Olympic team, which has nine gold, ten silver and seven bronze medals in the overall medal standings.