Olympic Stories

Apolo Ohno – America’s Winter Champion

Apolo Ohno – America’s Winter Champion

While every Olympic athlete strives for a gold medal in every event, the reality is that there’s only one gold to go around for every individual competition. So while gold may glitter a bit more, true fans of sport recognize that silver and bronze also shine very brightly.

This is why, despite only winning 2 gold medals in the Olympics, Apolo Ohno is considered to be the most decorated man in American Winter Olympic history. With 4 bronze and 2 silver medals to go along with his 2 golds, Ohno has a total of 8 medals in speed skating and stands as a true champion.

Apolo Ohno

Born May 22, 1982 in Federal Way, Washington, Apolo Anton Ohno is a former short track speed skater who has won multiple World Championship titles and has an impressive array of Olympic Medals. While only 31 years of age, Ohno will not be competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Instead, he’s joining up with NBC to help out in the Winter coverage.

A former Male Athlete of the Year, Ohno has always been considered amongst the best in the business. Since a teenager, he was favored to win nearly every competition he entered. But with some bad breaks along the way, many of his Olympic opportunities to win gold fell through.

Ohno’s Impressive Olympic Run Ends on a High Note

Apolo Ohno’s Olympic story isn’t a single chapter. Rather, it’s an amalgamation of stories from 3 separate Olympic Games and a long list of World Championship titles. However, the story can be told best in two parts: Ohno’s first trip to the Olympic Games and his near miss at 2 gold medals, and his last Games where he came so close to ending on top.

Ohno was still a teenager when he earned a spot in his first Olympic Games in 2002. Even still, he had already won a World Championship in 2001 and was considered the unanimous frontrunner entering the 1000m and 1500m short track events. The hype was well deserved, as he easily qualified for the semis and won his heats to compete in the finals of both races.

He would win the 1500m race and claim gold, defeating defending World Champion Marc Gagnon of Canada in the process. However, this victory was bitter sweet. In the 1000m race, Ohno was leading the pack en route to gold, when a crash on the final turn of the race created a mass pileup that knocked him out of the lead by a mere second. Apolo recovered quickly and bolted toward the finish line, but Steven Bradbury of Australia got there first and dashed Ohno’s chances at gold.

In the 2006 Games in Turin, Ohno was looking to repeat as gold medal winner in the 1500m, but bad luck would strike again, and he stumbled during the semis and finished in 5th place. While he did better in the 1000m, the Korean pair of Ahn Hyun Soo and Lee Ho-suk, seemingly working in tandem, defeated Ohno and left the American with only a bronze to show for his efforts.

Ohno was very serious about the 2010 Games. He has lost over 20 pounds, intensified his training after an extended break, and made it clear that this was his last hurrah in the Olympics. He would win a national title that year and enter the Games as the clear favorite. However, the Koreans struck again, crashing into the wall and forcing Ohno to slow down. He would finish with a silver in the 1500m race. In the 1000m, Ohno would suffer a slip with only 3 laps to go, ultimately ending up with bronze.

While it may have been disappointing initially, Ohno passed Bonnie Blair in 2010 to win the most medals ever for a US Winter Olympian. So, despite the lack of gold, Apolo Ohno still ended his Olympic career on a high note.

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