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Cross-country skier defends decision to switch allegiance

All Headlines 18:13 May 16, 2018

SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) -- Multiracial cross-country skier Kim Magnus on Wednesday defended his decision to swtich allegiance, saying he only wants to become "a better athlete" in the future.

Kim, born in South Korea to a Korean mother and a Norwegian father, met the media in Seoul on Wednesday, a day after announcing that he will stop representing South Korea in the 2018-2019 season and will instead compete for Norway.

Half-Korean cross-country skier Kim Magnus speaks at a press conference in Seoul on May 16, 2018. Born to a Korean mother and a Norwegian father, Kim announced that he will stop representing South Korea and will instead compete for Norway starting in the 2018-2019 season. (Yonhap)

"It was an inevitable decision on my part to develop into a better athlete," Kim said. "I am terribly sorry to everyone who's been helping me along the way."

Under the South Korean flag, Kim won two gold medals at the 2016 Youth Winter Olympics, and grabbed three medals, including one gold, at the 2017 Asian Winter Games. No Korean skier had won an Asian Games gold in cross-country skiing before Kim.

A holder of dual citizenship, the 19-year-old also represented host South Korea at this year's PyeongChang Winter Olympics, but finished well out of contention in his three races -- 1.4-kilometer sprint classic, 15-kilometer freestyle and 50-kilometer mass start.

Kim said he wasn't going anywhere in South Korea and that he hopes advanced training in Norway, a cross-country powerhouse with seven gold medals at PyeongChang, should help his career.

"If I felt I was improving while competing for South Korea, I would have been more confident in my future," Kim said. "But I never felt that way. And I didn't think it was worth putting my future at stake to ski here."

When asked if he felt training in Norway could make him an Olympic gold medal contender, Kim said, "Absolutely."

The teenager also said he was inspired by the performance of Norwegian skier Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, who claimed three gold medals in PyeongChang.

"As juniors, we were on the similar level," Kim said. "I am two years younger and I think I'll have my chances."

Kim added that there were some trust issues between him and the Korea Ski Association, and there were moments when he "couldn't concentrate on competing."

On the other hand, Kim said he still hopes to be able to help South Korean skiing, and he'll try to find ways to do that while skiing for Norway.


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