Apolo Ohno flew across the finish line behind Lee Jung-Su and Lee Ho-Suk of South Korea. The roar of spectators packing the Pacific Colusseum shook the rink. Although Ohno clinched third place, he had just emerged as the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian.Ohno's Bronze in the 1000m on Saturday was his seventh Olympic medal, topping the record six medals held by retired speedskater Bonnie Blair. Ohno has been an American favorite for three Olympic games now. Through his Olympic appearances he has displayed remarkable athleticism and created excitement for a less popular winter sport.
At Salt Lake City in 2002, Ohno sprung onto the short track speed skating scene as a heavily rooted star. Yet in his Olympic debut, Ohno was swept into controversy when South Korea's Kim Dong-Sung, who finished first in the 1500m race was disqualified, giving Ohno, who had arrived in second place, the gold medal. Despite unfavorable reactions, Ohno accepted the gold with dignity, later gaining a silver medal in the 1000m.
Ohno returned stronger in 2006 at Torino, remaining an American favorite. He gained three medals, officially making him a household name. As the 2010 games approached, expectations for Ohno (perhaps boosted by his win in ABC's "Dancing with the Stars") heightened. And clearly, he has been no disappointment.
Cheering on Ohno at the 1000m were athletes familiar to the weight of many medals - swimming star Michael Phelps and Blair herself. Many say Ohno's achievement does not surpass that of Blair's, as his collection consists of three bronze medals, two silver medals and two gold medals, whereas she has five gold medals and one bronze. Still, it is difficult not to celebrate his strong will and achievement. Even Blair expressed her satisfaction that he broke her record. "At least it's by a speedskater," she told USA Today.
At age 27, Ohno says these Olympic games are his last. He still has two events remaining in the next week: the 500m and the 5000m relay. But whether or not Ohno earns medals, he will certainly go out with a bang.
Anya Gosine. More »