New Russian Victor An becomes short track king: Day 14 Newsmaker
Ties American Apolo Ohno for most medals in the sport
It’s hard not to become the Newsmaker of the day after winning two short track Olympic gold medals in less than one hour and becoming the sport's most decorated athlete.
Especially when you accomplish the feat at home.
But, in this very particular case, it was a “new” home.
Former South Korean and new Russian citizen Victor Ann won the men's 500-metre individual and 5,000m relay events on Friday in Sochi to tie American Apolo Ohno for the most medals ever won by a short track speed skater with eight.
He also captured gold in the 1000-metre race in Sochi, and skated to bronze in the 1500m.
"He just shows he is the best guy in the world, definitely here," Ohno said. "He's got eight medals, six gold. Perhaps the best ever to put short track speed skates on."
The 28-year-old adds his Sochi hardware to the four gold medals he earned at the 2006 Turin Games.
Though, he was representing different colours eight years ago, and had a different name.
He was Ahn Hyun-Soo, a South Korean speed skater who demolished the competition on the track in Italy.
So, why would an idol like An leave South Korea?
Well, a knee injury in 2008 kept the speedy skater away from racing, while different surgeries on that same knee left him out of the Vancouver Games in 2010 as his team dissolved and no one was interested in an athlete with a busted leg.
"I was feeling bad and sad," he said. "My goal was to participate in another Olympics."
Olympic hunger made Hyun-Soo move to Russia to train and he received citizenship in 2011. However, South Korea doesn’t allow dual citizenship, leaving the Olympian with a very tough decision to make.
Victor was born.
"I made a decision and I have no regret," he said. "I would like to thank Russia."
And Russia has embraced its adopted son ever since, watching him make history in his new home.
"This will be the best Olympics in my life," said An. "I will never forget it."
As for the South Korean men's short track team, they will go back to their country with zero medals, their worst Olympic performance since 2002.
(With files from The Associated Press)