Viktor Ahn

Viktor Ahn
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Viktor Ahn the latest Olympic star to coach Chinese athletes ahead of Beijing 2022

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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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Viktor Ahn, greatest Olympic short track speed skater, retires again

Viktor Ahn
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Viktor Ahn, the most decorated short track speed skater in Olympic history, has retired for the second time in 20 months, according to Russia’s skating federation.

Ahn, a six-time gold medalist between Russia and South Korea, announced his retirement in a letter published by R-Sport.

The 34-year-old wrote that he wasn’t in form to continue for another season, citing constant knee pain and other injuries.

Ahn previously announced retirement in September 2018, then returned for the 2019-20 World Cup season. His campaign was cut short last fall, however, due to a reported knee injury.

Ahn earned four medals and three golds each at the 2006 Olympics for South Korea (as Ahn Hyun-Soo, a top rival to Apolo Ohno) and the 2014 Olympics for Russia.

Had Ahn continued to the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, he would have bid to break American Cathy Turner‘s record as the oldest Olympic short track skater in history, according to Olympedia and the OlyMADMen.

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.

The International Olympic Committee did not invite Ahn to compete in 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.

“Not being included on the invitation list does not necessarily mean that an athlete has been doped — it should not automatically cast doubt on their integrity,” Valerie Fourneyron, who chaired the IOC panel determining Russian invites, said after the list of invited athletes was released. “The IOC would like to make clear that there may still be further enquiries and further anti-doping procedures coming up against a number of those athletes who have not been included on the pool of athletes considered for invitation.”

That exclusion prompted Ahn, who had never been implicated publicly in any doping cases, to write an open letter to IOC president Thomas Bach.

“It is outrageous that there is no concrete reason which explains my exclusion from the Olympics, and furthermore people now view me as an athlete who used doping,” Ahn wrote.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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MORE: U.S. Olympic short track medalist switches country

Viktor Ahn retires as greatest Olympic short track speed skater

Viktor Ahn
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Viktor Ahn, the most decorated short track speed skater in Olympic history, has retired after eight medals with six golds competing for South Korea and then Russia, according to Russian media.

Ahn, 32, earned four medals and three golds each at the 2006 Olympics for South Korea (as Ahn Hyun-Soo, a top rival to Apolo Ohno) and the 2014 Olympics for Russia.

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.

The International Olympic Committee did not invite Ahn to compete in 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.

“Not being included on the invitation list does not necessarily mean that an athlete has been doped — it should not automatically cast doubt on their integrity,” Valerie Fourneyron, who chaired the IOC panel determining Russian invites, said after the list was released. “The IOC would like to make clear that there may still be further enquiries and further anti-doping procedures coming up against a number of those athletes who have not been included on the pool of athletes considered for invitation.”

That exclusion prompted Ahn, who had never been implicated publicly in any doping cases, to write an open letter to IOC president Thomas Bach.

“It is outrageous that there is no concrete reason which explains my exclusion from the Olympics, and furthermore people now view me as an athlete who used doping,” Ahn wrote.

Russian speed skating federation president Aleksey Kravtsov said missing PyeongChang didn’t influence Ahn’s retirement, according to Russian news agency TASS.

“However, it was undoubtedly a huge blow for him,” Kravtsov said, according to the report. “His participation in the [2018] Olympics was initially seen as the last one in his career, which he was eventually planning to wrap up with.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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