South Korea Pained By Victor An's Olympic Bronze
For South Koreans, the sight of a former favorite son winning a medal in Sochi on Monday was bittersweet.
Victor An took bronze in the men's 1,500 meter short-track speed skating event for Russia. Only three years ago he was skating for South Korea. At the 2006 Olympics in Turin, he won three golds and a bronze for the nation under the name Ahn Hyun-soo.
But in 2010 he fell out with the Korean speed skating federation when a knee injury kept him from qualifying for the Vancouver Olympics. South Korea, fertile ground for competitive speed skating with plenty of up-and-coming candidates, had little room for injured athletes.
So Mr. Ahn chose Russia as his new homeland. Russia welcomed him. He changed his name to Victor An.
'I've decided to work in better environment and keep myself focused on the sport,' he told local media in 2011 while announcing his decision to become Russian. 'I will practice earnestly in order to show my best performance in the upcoming Olympic Games and not to regret my decision.'
While the 28-year-old won a bronze medal on Monday, his former teammates left empty-handed. Lee Han-bin was the highest placed South Korean skater in the final, coming in sixth after colliding with his compatriot Sin Da-woon, who had lost his balance after hitting track-marking pucks. Sin finished in tenth place, while Park Se-yeong was 13.
The following day, South Korean media and individuals expressed their frustration.
'The day when Ahn Hyun-soo waved the Russian flag, no Korean flag fluttered,' Seoul-based newspaper Dong-A Ilbo said.
'An wins bronze, Koreans falter,' said a headline in the English-language Korea Times.
Since it first took part in the Winter Olympics in 1948, South Korea has won 19 gold medals in short-track skating, almost three times the tally of its nearest rivals Canada and China.
'Ahn Hyun-soo will continue to get my support, regardless of whether he carries the Russian flag or the Korean flag,' Twitter user @qwert19930424 wrote on Tuesday.
'I'm glad for him to win the medal, but a bit sad for him to wave the Russian flag,' said another with the username @osugho29.
Some people blamed South Korea for letting such a talented athlete go to Russia. 'The [South Korean] nation may have abandoned Ahn Hyun-soo, but the people have not,' wrote @Rfmfm.
维克多·安(Victor An)在男子短道速滑1,500米决赛中为俄罗斯夺得铜牌。仅三年前，他还在为韩国效力。2006年都灵冬奥会上，他曾以安贤洙(Ahn Hyun-Soo)的身份为韩国夺得三枚金牌和一枚铜牌。
28岁的维克多·安周一夺得了一枚铜牌，而他以前的韩国队友则空手而归。李汉彬(Lee Han-bin)是男子短道速滑决赛排名最靠前的韩国选手，位列第六。在半决赛中，韩国选手申大元(Sin Da-woon)失去平衡摔倒，并与李汉彬相撞。申大元获得第10名， 世英(PARK Se Yeong)获得第13名。