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Ahn strikes gold for hosts Russia Park claims 1,000m title

SOCHI, Russia, Feb 21, (RTRS): Viktor Ahn won two gold medals in less than an hour on Friday, confirming his place as the most successful short track speed skater of all time and sending his adopted country Russia into raptures. Ahn won the individual 500 metres titles with a perfectly timed sprint before returning to the ice about 45 minutes later to help Russia claim the men’s 5,000m relay title. His two victories took his career total to six golds — more than any speed skater in Olympic history — either in short track or the more traditional long course. His success also rubbed salt into the wounds of his birthland South Korea, the sport’s traditional powerhouse, who failed to win a medal in any men’s event in Sochi.

However, South Korea did collect gold in the women’s 1,000m final on Friday when Park Seung-hi stormed to victory, collecting her second gold medal at the Iceberg Skating Palace. Ahn won three golds at the 2006 Olympics in Turin when he was competing for South Korea as Ahn Hyun-soo but fell out with skating officials after he was not selected for the 2010 Vancouver games. He switched allegiance to Russia and changed his name after being granted citizenship and his amazing performances in Sochi have infuriated people in his Asian homeland, with President Park Geun-hye ordering a government investigation into how one of the country’s top athletes ended up competing for a rival.

Ahn set a host of records in Sochi. The 28-year-old won a medal in each of the four men’s events, a feat that had never been done before, and lifted his career tally of medals to 10, matching the sport’s record held by retired American Apolo Ohno who is in Sochi working as a television commentator. “I could never do it, but for anybody to change citizenship and skate for another country — that’s really, really difficult to do,” Ohno said. “But he took that risk and that massive gamble. There’s something to be said for what he’s gone through emotionally and physically as an athlete.”


Wu Dajing of China won the silver medal in the 500m dash while the bronze went to Charle Cournoyer of Canada, after Chinese world champion Liang Wenhao fell in the four-man final.
In the relay, Ahn teamed up with Semen Elistratov, Vladimir Grigorev and Rusian Zakharov to win the chaotic 45-lap team event.
The United States finished second to claim their only medal in either short track or traditional long track speed skating at the Sochi Olympics.
The bronze went to China, whose team recovered from a fall on the first bend to edge the Netherlands for the last spot on the podium.
Fan Kexin of China won the silver medal behind Park in the women’s 1,000m final while the bronze went to Shim Suk-hee, who teamed up with Park to win the women’s 3,000m relay on Tuesday.
Britain’s Elise Christie did not win a medal but completed a rare hat-trick when she was disqualified in the semifinals for her part in a fall after she was earlier eliminated from the 500m and 1500m after running foul of officials.
“They said that I pushed her over,” Christie told reporters.
“I will always accept the referee’s position but I don’t agree with it ... I can’t believe it’s happened again.”

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