On February 18, 2006, Shani Davis became the first Black athlete to win a gold medal in an individual event at the Olympic Winter Games by winning the 1000m speed skating event in Turin, Italy. Check out the video above to relive the historic moment where Davis broke barriers, finishing with a time of 1:08.89.
Four years later in Vancouver, Davis repeated as Olympic champion in the 1000m. The Chicago native also earned 1500m silver medals in 2006 and 2010. At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, where the U.S. finished without a single medal in speed skating, Davis finished eighth in the 1000m. He persisted to make his final Olympic team in 2018 where his best finish was seventh in the 1000m.
The four-time Olympic medalist announced his retirement from competition in November 2019 and still remains one of the most accomplished speed skaters in U.S. history. He’s won world titles in the allround, sprint, single distances, and team pursuit, held the 1000m and 1500m world records, and still ranks second in the historic Adelskalendar, which ranks skaters overall based on their times across all Olympic distances.
Davis fell in love with skating at the age of two when his mother took him to the local roller skating rink. At six years old, he made the switch to the ice after his mother started working for an attorney whose son happened to be involved in speed skating at an elite level and suggested that Shani give speed skating a try.
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