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Russian-born biathlete will represent Korea at Games

Jan 19,2017
BIATHLON

A Russia-born biathlete has acquired 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 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 Korean citizenship to compete at the upcoming Winter Olympics. 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. 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 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.



FOOTBALL

Samsung Bluewings’ Kwon will join Dijon FCO

Korean football club Suwon Samsung Bluewings announced Wednesday their midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon will move to French Dijon FCO.

The K League Classic club said they’ve reached an agreement with Dijon over the transfer of Kwon. Suwon didn’t provide the details of the deal, but sources said Kwon signed a 3 1/2-year deal with Dijon. The French club also reportedly offered to pay a transfer fee of 1.2 million euros ($1.28 million) and share the transfer fee with Suwon if Kwon moves to another club in the future.

Dijon first wanted to have Kwon on loan for free for six months. But after negotiations, they decided to sign the Korean on permanently.

Suwon, the reigning Korea Football Association Cup winners, said Kwon departed for France on Wednesday to complete a medical.

Yonhap