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Behind the Games: Shani Davis

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There is no slowing down Shani Davis!

The 35-year-old has been skating almost as long as he could walk. Now, he’s competing in his 5th straight Winter Games.

The Chicago native’s career started on roller blades when he was just two. By the time he was three, security guards had to slow him down on the rink.

His mom’s boss, who was involved with speed skating, encouraged him to make the switch to the ice.

Shani’s mom further encouraged his speed by waking him up every morning to run. They even moved around the country for better training.

Her motivation and his hard work paid off.

Shani is the first African American to win gold in an individual sport at the Winter Games. In total, he has two gold medals and two silver medals from the Winter Games. He’s also set 9 world records.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, he inspired the super hero “Frozone” from The Incredibles.

Still, Shani’s name is among the lesser known when it comes to gold medalists. At least that’s the case here in the United States. In the Netherlands, however, he’s a superstar! He appears on magazine covers, television shows and was even the subject of a documentary.

He says he knows time isn’t on his side, but what he’s lost in age, he’s gained in wisdom. It’s the advantage he claims to have over his younger competition.

Shani made headlines just before this year’s Winter Games when he wasn’t picked to carry the American flag during opening ceremonies. Instead, luger Erin Hamlin, who is retiring after PyeongChang, was selected.

He lashed out on Twitter saying, “I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018 #PyeongChang2018”

Shani ultimately decided to skip the opening ceremonies all together, in what could be his last Winter Games.

-Ashley Sturm
ashley@wkrq.com

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