- © RIA Novosti. Maxim Bogodvid
- © RIA Novosti. Vladimir Pesnya
1/2 © RIA Novosti. Maxim Bogodvid
SOCHI, February 15 (R-Sport) - Russia's Viktor Ahn won the gold and Vladimir Grigorev the silver in a glorious 1,000m short track speedskating final for the host nation at the Sochi Olympics on Saturday.
Ahn led from the start and was never seriously challenged for a fourth career Olympic gold medal and his second medal of the Sochi Games at the Iceberg Skating Palace. He timed 1:25.325, with Grigorev clocking 1:25.399 for his first major global medal at the age of 31. World silver medalist Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands claimed the bronze in 1:25.611.
The victory elicited a deafening roar from the 12,000 capacity crowd, after which Ahn and Grigorev grabbed huge Russian flags and took them on laps of honor.
"Of course I'm happy. I'm very happy, but I'm even more happy because Russia managed to win both the gold and silver," Ahn said. "I had no idea Russia was such a strong short track country. I want to try to win the relay and hope to enjoy the other competitions at these Games."
He added: "It's my first Olympics in my home country. I'm so grateful for all the support people have given me here."
Grigorev, meanwhile, revealed the tactics that that propeled the pair to glory.
"I was speaking to Viktor earlier and 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 represented Ukraine at Salt Lake City in 2002 and Torino 2006.
Ahn, 28, became one of speedskating's all-time greats as a competitor for his native South Korea, where he was known as Ahn Hyun-Soo, winning 20 world championship gold medals and three Olympic titles in Turin. After reportedly falling out with Korean coaches he switched allegiances to Russia in 2011, getting citizenship in 2012.
He reportedly becomes the first athlete to win Winter Games gold medals for different countries not sharing a common history, such as the Soviet Union and Russia or Balkan countries.
Ahn claimed the Sochi bronze behind Canada's Charles Hamelin and China's Han Tianyu in the 1,500m on Monday. Hamelin had been in contention for the 1,000m title but crashed out in the quarterfinals.
It is Ahn's second career gold in the 1,000m, after taking the title in 2006 along with the 1,500m and 5,000m relay. He also won the 500m bronze in Turin, the same medal as in Sochi this week, and takes his career Olympic medal haul to six.
It's also a third Sochi gold medal for his adopted nation; the others came in figure skating. Russia won the inaugural team event and the pairs title went to Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov.