- Speed Skating
Shani Davis focused on history after conquering unorthodox path
Jan 20 - Shani Davis' mother wanted her young son to pursue roller dance, while guards at the Chicago ice rink he frequented just wished he would slow down. A myriad of medals in a glorious decade of elite speed skating prove emphatically the American was right to do neither.
The 31-year-old Davis, the first black athlete to win an individual Winter Olympic gold, heads to Sochi in February with more records in his sights as if to hammer home the point.
Olympic 1000m champion in Torino and Vancouver, Davis could become the first American to win the same event at three consecutive Games.
Embedded video_content_type: Shani Davis talks about his journey to the Sochi Games
He is also entered in the 1500m and two medals in Russia will make him America's most decorated male long track speed skater.
"I first went roller skating at one of the many Chicago rinks. Mom thought I'd like roller dance but I just wanted to go fast, even then," Davis told Reuters in an interview.
"My speed got me in trouble sometimes with the rink guards, and someone who my mom worked for suggested I might like speed skating."
Embedded owg_slideshow: From middle school to medals: Shani Davis
Thankfully mom listened, the guards relented and he now boasts 10 World Championship titles, has set nine world records and proven a strong role model for black youths in south Chicago, where he grew up, and the rest of the world.
"I do appreciate how much my success - especially that first gold medal - means to a great many people around the world more because of my skin color," he said.
"If people view me as a pioneer that way I'll accept the praise but the real pioneers in my skating life were those that blazed trails in my own sport in Chicago.
"People like my first coach Saunders Hicks and my early role model, Wale Kadiri, who's family is Nigerian. I remain focused on making speed skating history, human history, not Black history. When I'm asked my "race", I always reply: 1000 meters."
Embedded video_content_type: Science of Winter Sports: Shani Davis & Engineering Competition Suits