By Karolos Grohmann
TURIN (Reuters) – Shani Davis made history on Saturday by
becoming the first black male to win an individual gold medal
at a Winter Olympics when he cruised to victory in the
speedskating 1,000 meters.
Confirming his status as the best skater over the distance,
Davis, the 1,000 meters world record holder, was slow at the
start but accelerated in the final 400 meters to cross the line
with a time of 1:08.89.
“Since I was a kid I joked around saying one day I am going
to win the 1,000. Now it’s happened,” he told reporters. “A
childhood dream comes true.”
Fellow American Joey Cheek was second, grabbing another
medal following his gold in the 500 meters on Monday.
Cheek’s close friend, Erben Wennemars, squeezed into the
medals after battling it out with fellow Dutchman Jan Bos.
Davis, from Chicago’s South Side, skated over to Wennemars
following his race, hugged him and waved to the thousands of
Dutch fans who had packed into the Oval Lingotto for what they
consider the most exciting race in speedskating.
“Joey (Cheek) gave me a fright with how fast he was going
in the beginning of the race. But finally I get rewarded for my
hard work,” he said.
American 5,000 meters gold medallist Chad Hedrick, who fell
out with Davis over his refusal to race in the team pursuit,
set the pace early on with a moderately fast race of 1:09.45.
But Davis, who has not lost a single 1,000 meters race he
has entered this season, was too good to be denied the top
Asked how he felt to be the first black man to win a gold
medal, Davis said: “I don’t know. I think it’s cool to have a
gold medal regardless of the color. Although African-Americans
choose basketball or some other sport I chose a different
route,” he said.
“Regardless of the color I wake up in the morning and work
as hard as anybody.”
“It’s still a breakthrough though.”
Russian 500 meters silver medallist Dmitry Dorofeyev was
unlucky when Erik Zachrisson, with whom he was paired, blocked
him in the lane change as the Russian was on his way to beating
The Swede was disqualified but the damage to Dorofeyev’s
time was done.