Russian short track speed skater Viktor Ahn plans to retire after the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics in his birth nation, he said Friday, according to South Korean media.
Ahn, 30, was the most decorated male athlete at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, winning three gold medals and one bronze. He also won three golds and one bronze for South Korea at Torino 2006 before switching to Russia.
“I wanted to retire after the Sochi Winter Olympics, but I decided to extend my career a bit longer after speaking with the head of the Russian skating federation,” Ahn said, according to the Korea Herald. “I am training hard with an eye on the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. I want to pour my last ounce of energy into Pyeongchang.”
Ahn took this past World Cup season off, dealing with knee problems.
“Doctors have told me undergoing surgery would jeopardize my career,” he said, according to the Korea Herald. “So I think I will have to skate through pain until I retire. I am trying to add muscle to relieve the pain.”
If Ahn competes at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics against skaters from his birth country, he would be one of the most scrutinized athletes, perhaps the most scrutinized.
NBC Olympic short track analyst Apolo Ohno said in 2014 that Ahn would be warmly received in Pyeongchang.
Ahn is two gold medals shy of the career record for a Winter Olympian shared by Norwegians biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie.