Russia-born biathlete acquires South Korean citizenship

Rachel Han, Feb. 28, 2017, 9:12 a.m.

SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Yonhap) -- A Russia-born biathlete has acquired South Korean citizenship and will begin representing his adopted home at international competitions, the sport's national governing body said Tuesday.

The Korea Biathlon Union (KBU) said Timofey Lapshin's application for special naturalization was approved by South Korea's justice ministry on Monday.

Lapshin is the fourth Russian to represent South Korea in biathlon. In March 2016, Anna Frolina and Alexander Starodubets received South Korean citizenship, while Ekaterina Avvakumova earned her South Korean passport last December.

The KBU has been trying to naturalize foreign-born biathletes to boost South Korea's competitiveness in the sport at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Lapshin, 29, 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. He represented Russia from 2008 to 2016.

The KBU said once Lapshin's South Korean passport is issued, he will compete at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Biathlon World Cup starting on Thursday.

It is one of the test events for the PyeongChang Olympics.

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