The Wrath of Ahn

Feb. 27, 2006
Feb. 27, 2006

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Feb. 27, 2006

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SI Players: Life On And Off The Field
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2006 Olympics Turin

The Wrath of Ahn

A victory over archrival Apolo Ohno in the tightly contested 1,000 meters confirmed Ahn Hyun Soo's ascension to the top of his sport--and served as payback for perceived wrongs to South Korea at the Salt Lake City Games

APOLO OHNO wasstuck in traffic and couldn't get home. Trapped behind South Korean skaters AhnHyun Soo and Lee Ho Suk on the final turn of the 1,000-meter final lastSaturday night, the American short-track star could find no way through. Aftercrossing the finish line in third place, Ohno threw his hands up inexasperation. "I was looking for a space to pass, but there was none,"he said. "It's a tough position to be in."

This is an article from the Feb. 27, 2006 issue Original Layout

Clashing with Ahnhas become all too familiar for Ohno; since the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympicsthe two have raced 68 times. On Saturday the bleach-blond Ahn, 20, also took onOhno, 23, in the two heats leading up to the finals and won them both."Today I beat Ohno three times," Ahn said. "I feel confident. Iwant to get more medals. I'm ready."

Ahn's 1,000-metervictory, in an Olympic-record 1:26.739, gave him his second gold of the TurinGames; he and Lee also went one-two in the 1,500 on Feb. 12. With podiumfinishes in the 500 meters and the 5,000-meter relay this Saturday, the Seoulnative would become the first short-track skater to collect four medals in asingle Games. After his win in the 1,500, a race in which Ohno failed to reachthe finals, Ahn told Korean journalists he was surprised the gold had come soeasily. Said South Korean coach Park Se Woo, "Ohno is still the same as hewas in 2002. Hyun Soo has upgraded with more size, more power andskill."

A junior at KoreaNational Sports University in Seoul, Ahn is the three-time defending all-aroundworld champion. When not in competition he trains eight hours daily, with twoskating sessions, plus weightlifting, jumping, sprints and video analysis.South Korea dominated the first four short-track events in Turin, winning threegolds and three silvers, but it was Ahn's defeat of Ohno last Saturday nightthat was vindication for the controversial disqualification of Kim Dong Sung inthe 2002 Olympic 1,500--a race in which Ohno was declared the winner.

"The Koreanpeople are relieved now that Ahn Hyun Soo has won over Apolo Anton Ohno,"said Kim Jung Kil, the president of the Korean Olympic Committee. "Now weknow which country is superior."

PHOTOAL TIELEMANSREAR VIEW In the 1,000, Ohno (254) couldn't get around Ahn, who's eyeing four medals in Turin.ILLUSTRATION