Viktor Ahn, the most decorated Olympic short track speed skater in history, will coach Chinese skaters leading up to the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, according to South Korean media.
Ahn, who won three gold medals each for South Korea and for Russia, announced his second retirement in 20 months in April at age 34. He cited constant knee pain and other injuries.
Ahn joins a long list of retired Winter Olympic champions to coach Chinese athletes in this Winter Olympic cycle, before the nation hosts its first Winter Games. Others include U.S. speed skater Shani Davis, biathletes Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway and wife Darya Domracheva of Belarus and bobsledders Andre Lange of Germany and Pierre Lueders of Canada. Plus Bud Keene, the longtime coach of snowboarder Shaun White.
Ahn was added to China’s short track program after the nation’s most decorated Winter Olympian, short tracker Wang Meng, reportedly stepped down as head coach in April after 11 months in the position.
Ahn, then 20, earned three golds among four medals as Ahn Hyun-Soo for South Korea at the 2006 Torino Winter Games.
He missed South Korea’s team for the 2010 Olympics after undergoing four knee surgeries in the 15 months leading up to the Olympic Trials. Ahn’s club team dissolved, and his father contacted Russia’s federation. He became a citizen in 2011, then earned three golds among four medals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
The International Olympic Committee did not invite Ahn to the PyeongChang Olympics, the only way he could have competed in his birth nation due to sanctions placed on Russia for its poor anti-doping record.
South Korea and China have often clashed in Olympic short track speed skating, given they rank Nos. 1 and 2 on the all-time medal standings in the sport.
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