CATHERINE KIM WRITES – Victor Ahn, a.k.a. Ahn Hyun-Soo, is now a Russian hero after winning the nation’s first-ever gold medal in the 1,000 meters short-track speed skating at the Sochi Winter Olympics. After winning first place, Ahn skated to the center of the ice, got down on all fours and kissed the ice on the letter C in the logo of Sochi 2014. He then embraced his fellow skater Grigorev and Sin Da-woon of South Korea.

Born in Seoul, Ahn received mixed feedback from South Koreans as he waved the Russian flag. Some South Koreans gave their support, happy to see a fellow Korean winning the gold medal, as others expressed their frustration.

Ahn lost the support from South Korea in 2010 when a knee injury disqualified him from the Vancouver Olympics. After considering some other countries, Russia welcomed him with open arms, offering him a contract that would allow him to coach in Russia following the Sochi Games. Since then, Ahn has spent the past eight years preparing for this year’s games.

Ahn has participated in three Winter Olympics so far and has won six medals, winning three gold medals for South Korea during the 2006 Turin Games before swapping nationalities.

Fellow short-track skaters gave him support, acknowledging him as a champion. Yuri Confortola, an Italian skater said, “But I prefer to see Victor An skate. With Russia is better than nothing.”