U.S. speed skater Casey Dawson is an Olympic medalist two weeks after his trip to the Games was in question. He, Ethan Cepuran, Emery Lehman and Joey Mantia earned bronze medals in the men's team pursuit competition that concluded on Tuesday.
After the event, he posted on his Instagram story:
From not thinking I would be able to make it to the Olympics to a bronze medal. Speechless.
Dawson tested positive for COVID-19 approximately three weeks before the Opening Ceremony, leading to complications. Dawson needed four negative tests to travel, plus his testing site was removed from the approved list.
"It was up and down," Dawson told the media last week. "Once I got a negative test I was riding a high. But then I’d get a positive, and I’d be on the ground crying as I didn’t think I would get here. It’s a relief being here."
He cleared protocols ahead of his 1500m race on Feb. 8 and flew from Salt Lake City to Atlanta, from Atlanta to Paris, and finally from Paris to Beijing with just over 12 hours to spare.
Dawson finished in 28th in the 1500m using Latvian athlete Haralds Silovs' skates after the American's bag was lost in transit.
"It was quite the experience in the 1500m, I had to skate in someone else's blades," Dawson said in a press conference on Tuesday. "It wasn't the prettiest, but I did as well as I could. Then I got back on track with my team."
The 21-year-old had a few days before the team pursuit quarterfinals on Feb. 13. He said he got up to speed quickly.
With his own skates, he led the U.S. to the second-fastest time. In the semifinals on Tuesday, the U.S. bested the previous Olympic record with Dawson setting the pace. However, the ROC finished 0.43 seconds faster, and the Americans headed to the Final B.
"We were disappointed but at the same time, we got off the ice, shifted focus, and were like, 'How are we going to win bronze?'" Cepuran said. "You’ve got to keep focus on what we can do next."
The U.S. capitalized on the chance for a podium finish and knocked off the Netherlands by 2.81 seconds.
Mantia led the pace with Lehman and Dawson in line.
"To come out as a medalist is amazing," Dawson said. "I couldn't be happier because I thought all hope was lost."