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S. Korean-born Russian short tracker wants to enjoy self at PyeongChang 2018

2017/07/17 15:38

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SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) -- At the advanced age of 31, Victor An, South Korean-born Russian short track speed skater, knows next year's Winter Olympics in his native land could well be his last.

And when the PyeongChang Winter Games roll around next February, An just wants to enjoy himself.

"Throughout my career, I've competed under a lot of pressure," An told reporters after practice with the rest of the Russian national team in Seoul on Monday. The Russian skaters arrived at Korea National Sport University (KNSU) last week.

Victor An, Russian short track speed skater born Ahn Hyun-soo in South Korea, trains at Seoul's Korea National Sport University on July 17, 2017. (Yonhap) Victor An, Russian short track speed skater born Ahn Hyun-soo in South Korea, trains at Seoul's Korea National Sport University on July 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

"And at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, I want to have fun skating, rather than worry about results," An added.

An was born Ahn Hyun-soo in South Korea, and won three gold medals for his native country at the 2006 Torino Winter Games. His name was synonymous with short track in South Korea, but after suffering through a series of injuries and growing disenchantment with factional feuds in South Korean short track, An obtained his Russian passport in 2011.

The veteran then won three more Olympic gold medals at the 2014 Sochi Games, becoming the new winter sports hero for his adopted nation. No Russian short tracker had ever won an Olympic gold before An.

An said on top of winning races, he now has to assume more of a leadership role for the Russian team, too.

"I am the third-oldest skater on the men's and women's teams," he said. "I have to lead young skaters by example. Now that I am a bit older, (skating) is taking its toll on me, but I want to keep doing my best."

   Asked how he's trying to be a leader, An said, "I've been answering whatever questions that younger skaters might have. I am trying to hand down my technical know-how."

  

Victor An, Russian short track speed skater born Ahn Hyun-soo in South Korea, speaks with reporters after practice at Seoul's Korea National Sport University on July 17, 2017. (Yonhap) Victor An, Russian short track speed skater born Ahn Hyun-soo in South Korea, speaks with reporters after practice at Seoul's Korea National Sport University on July 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

An and the Russian team came here for a two-week camp.

KNSU is An's alma mater, and he admitted he felt "comfortable" being back on the same ice where he trained more than a decade ago.

He trained with tape on his neck and shoulder areas. He said he's been trying to take it a bit easy since he only just completed his off-ice program.

"The PyeongChang Olympics will be the really important competition," he added. "I'll try to get back into form through the upcoming World Cup races and the European championships."

   jeeho@yna.co.kr

(END)

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