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Ahn wins 1st Olympic short track gold for Russia

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 15, 2014 at 9:06 am •  Published: February 15, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Viktor Ahn threw his arms up in celebration as he crossed the finish line first, giving Russia its first Olympic short track gold medal. Just behind him Vladimir Grigorev was celebrating, too, as Russia finished 1-2 in the men's 1,000 meters on Saturday, igniting a raucous home crowd.

The Seoul-born Ahn won gold medals for South Korea in 2006. His victory Saturday made him the first man to win four short track golds — and the first to win Winter Olympic gold medals for two unrelated countries.

"I spent the whole last eight years for this medal," Ahn said through a translator. "That's why I cried."

Ahn and Grigorev raced to celebrate with their coaches on the sideline as the mostly Russian crowd tooted horns and waved red, white and blue flags. It was Ahn's sixth career Olympic medal, including two in Sochi.

"I was so touched by the loud applause," said Ahn, who equaled women Wang Meng of China and Chun Lee-kyung of South Korea with his fourth short track gold.

Ahn then skated to center ice, got down on all fours and kissed the ice on the letter C in the logo of Sochi 2014. He got up and hugged Grigorev before embracing Sin Da-woon of South Korea, who had been disqualified.

"We don't compete with each other on a personal level," Ahn said of his rivalry with the South Koreans. "I just wanted to congratulate them for their performance."

At 31 years and 191 days, Grigorev became the oldest man to win a short track medal. He briefly led with four laps to go before Ahn passed him for good on the next-to-last lap.

"It was our strategy for me to block out the skaters, to hold them back and for us to go fast so it would be impossible for the other athletes to chase us," said Grigorev, who was born in Ukraine.

Ahn delivered his adopted country's first Olympic short track medal with a bronze in the 1,500. The 28-year-old skater previously competed for South Korea as Ahn Hyun-soo, winning three golds and a bronze at his first two Olympics in 2002 and 2006. A career-threatening knee injury in 2008 forced him to miss the Vancouver Games. Ahn became a Russian citizen in 2011, saying South Korea didn't provide him the support he needed.

"I proved my decision was not wrong. That's why today really is very, very meaningful to me," he said. "I wanted to choose an environment that allows me to do the sport I really love. What happened in the past is not important; I forgot it."

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