Saturday, March 01, 2014


From KOREA to RUSSIA: 2014 Winter Olympics Cover Story

It’s been a while since my last post, guess where I've been spending most of  my days and nights? Well, it has been crazy busy around, got caught up between work and 2014 Winter Olympics~

It’s my first time to cover a sports event and I was thrilled to write one of my dream games - Ice Sports @ 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.    

And one of the most interesting stories of 2014 Winter Olympics is no other than the story line of much decorated speed racer Viktor Ahn.

But Who’s Viktor Ahn?
He was formerly known in Korea as Ahn Hyeon-su [안현수], a 28-year-old Seoul-born. His a three-fold Olympic Champion of 2006, a five-fold absolute world champion (2003-2007), a two-fold World Cup champion. Ex-champion at the distances of 1000, 1500, 3000 meters. Two-fold champion of the Russian Federation. (
He was once the ace for Korea's world-beating short track skating team, and was a dominant force in the 2006 Torino Olympics.

What made him Controversial?
A career-threatening knee injury in 2008 and multiple surgeries kept him from producing results for his skating club and he didn't have enough time to qualify for the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Frustrated, Ahn became a free agent, renouncing Korean citizenship and taking the flag of the highest bidder, Russia, which make him a naturalized Russian citizen. He switched nationalities in 2011 after competing for South Korea in Turin. He chose the name of Viktor, as it meant “Victory” and he wanted to become as famous as Viktor Tsoi, a famous half Korean musician in Soviet Union.

Hero of Russia
Ahn celebrates with the Russian flag (image by
This year Sochi Olympics, Ahn became one of the Games' greatest winners, taking three gold and one bronze medals. In the process, he solidified his place as the greatest short track skater ever, with six career Olympic gold medals and two bronze under his name to date.
At his victory, he will get an awesome W516 million (US$1=W1,072) from the Russian Federation and Moscow, and Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev told the sports minister to give Ahn a home in Moscow. 
Ahn’s girl friend taking pictures while Viktor Ahn stands on the podium for the presentation of his medal.
He was embraced as hero by his adopted country. As per Russian President Putin, “He demonstrated the spirit of a true Olympian.”

How did Koreans feel about Ahn?

Initially in 2011, when Ahn announced his decision to leave Korea, there was some grousing in the corners of netizen by those who thought Ahn as a traitor. But what little grudge Koreans had held against Ahn mostly evaporated at the start of the Olympics, even before Ahn stepped on the Sochi ice. Overwhelming majority of Koreans cheered for Ahn when he was skating, and they were genuinely happy when Ahn won his first medal, a bronze. By the time Ahn was done setting the record, Koreans rooted and showered their love on Ahn just as much as they did with any member of Team Korea. 

Why did Koreans and Netizens root for Ahn? 

A lame reason may point to Korea's strong ethno-nationalism, and Koreans, like any other race love their own country men who succeeds. Such an analysis may have had a point in certain previous instances. However this time, it badly misreads the pulse of Koreans' positive emotion for Viktor Ahn. 

Koreans were not cheering for Ahn simply because Ahn is Korean, they were cheering for him because he represents the triumph of the individual, victorious over injustice.

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