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Russia-born biathlete acquires S. Korean citizenship

All News 09:17 January 18, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) -- A Russia-born biathlete has acquired South Korean citizenship and will represent her adopted home at international competitions, the sport's national governing body said Wednesday.

The Korea Biathlon Union (KBU) said Ekaterina Avvakumova's application for special naturalization was approved by South Korea's justice ministry last month. Under special naturalization, which is granted to foreigners with a specialized talent or skill set, the 26-year-old is allowed to have dual citizenship.

Avvakumova is the third Russian to represent South Korea in biathlon. Last March, Anna Frolina and Alexander Starodubets were given South Korean citizenship.

Avvakumova finished second in the 15km individual event at the 2015 Winter Universiade and won the gold medal in the mixed relay event at the 2015 Summer Biathlon World Championships. Last year, she took silver in the mass start at the Russian Biathlon Championships.

The KBU said Avvakumova decided to earn South Korean citizenship to compete at the upcoming Winter Olympics. South Korea is the host of the 2018 Winter Games that will be staged in PyeongChang and other two adjacent cities in Gangwon Province.

The KBU last year hired Russian head coach Andrei Prokunin and targeted to send four biathletes to the PyeongChang Olympics. South Korea is currently ranked 23rd in women's biathlon, but the country can send four biathletes to the Olympics if it can finish No. 20 or higher in world rankings at the end of this season, according to the KBU.

The biathlon governing body said it is also waiting on the justice ministry to grant South Korean citizenship to Timofey Lapshin. The 28-year-old Russian is the silver medalist in men's relay event at the 2009 Biathlon Junior World Championships. He also won World Cup gold medals in 2014 and 2015.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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