Skater Victor Ahn writes handwritten letter to quell rumors surrounding his retirement

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2018-09-10 18:12 Updated : 2018-09-10 18:12
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[Victor Ahn's Instagram]



SEOUL -- In an effort to quell widespread rumors about his life after retirement, Victor Ahn, a former short track prodigy who won 44 gold medals at international skating events, uploaded a handwritten letter to say he will quit Russia's national team without making a clear decision about his future.

The 31-year-old confirmed his departure from Russia's short track team but he said he would not hang up his skating shoes. "During my vacation in South Korea, I've decided to retire earlier than I intended," he said in an Instagram post updated on Monday.

He has been dogged by rumors that he would come back to his homeland or make his fresh debut in South Korea as an entertainer. Speculation surfaced after he filmed the episodes of "Real Men 300", a South Korean TV reality show to be aired in late September.

Ahn urged people not to over-interpret his decision, saying he had rejected Russia's proposal to serve as a coach just because he wanted an athletic life more than coaching.

"Honestly speaking, I wanted to continue my career as an athlete than being a coach. That's why I rejected the offer," he said, adding he thought his decision was good for the Russian team. He did not respond to rumors that his wife wants to bring up her daughter in South Korea.

Ahn, the most decorated short track speed skater in Olympic history, acquired a Russian citizenship in 2011 to race and coach for the Russian team after he was allegedly involved in conflicts with the Korean Skating Union (KSU). His father argued that the skater was mistreated and interfered by other teammates in winning a medal at the 2006 World Championships.

In Russia, Ahn was respected as a hero when he grabbed Russia's first gold medal in short track speed skating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Last week, Russian media reported that Ahn decided to retire after he was excluded from this year's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics due to sanctions put on Russia for an organized doping scandal.

Ahn, whose doping test results were never unveiled, wrote an open letter to International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach expressing his outrage.