Apolo Anton Ohno

By: Gary Hayduk

Apolo Ohno, aka Ohno Skater,
the Eight-time medalist in the Winter Olympics

From stumbles to victory, Apolo Ohno emerged as one of America's first and greatest Olympic speed skaters. 

Apolo Anton Ohno was born on May 22, 1982 in Seattle, Washington. His father, Yuki Ohno, was a Japanese-American and his mother, Jerrie Lee, was a white American. They divorced when Ohno was still a baby and he was raised by his father.

Ohno's father was concerned with his son's unsupervised time and got him involved in competitive swimming and in-line skating, both of which he excelled at. Ohno became interested in short track ice skating after seeing the sport on television. When he was 14 years old, his father sent him to the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center to train full-time.

After training for just six months, he claimed his first overall title at the U.S. Championships.

  • 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano
    Ohno finished last in the trials, but went on to become the first American to be the overall World Cup champion during the 2000-01 season.
  • 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics
    Four years later, he qualified for the U.S. team in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Ohno quickly emerged as a popular athlete among U.S. fans for his cheerful attitude and casual style. He became the face of short track speed skating in the U.S., which was a relatively new sport at the time. Ohno earned two medals during the 2002 games, a gold and a silver. The gold medal was won after the leader, Kim Dong-Sung from South Korea, was disqualified for blocking Ohno. This decision resulted in a hailstorm of negative statements and even death threats from South Korean fans. 
  • 2003 World Cup Short Track Event
    Ohno decided not to participate in the 2003 World Cup short track event in Korea for security reasons stemming from the 2002 Olympic games.
  • 2005 World Cup Event
    He did, however, go to South Korea for the 2005 World Cup meet, where he won two gold medals, as well as the overall title.
  • 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin
    Ohno got off to a rocky start in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, stumbling during a semifinal heat. He finished last in the 1500 meter, but went on to win the bronze medal in the 1000 meter, a gold in the 500 meter, and another bronze in the men's 5000 meter relay. 

In 2007, Ohno won his 8th U.S. National title in February, placing first in every event. During the World Championship in March, he won a gold and two bronze medals. On April 23, he announced that he will be competing in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Ohno was inducted into the Asian American Hall of Fame on April 26, 2007.

This honor is given to Asian-Americans who have contributed to their heritage by breaking new ground or achieving excellence in their field at both a national and international level.

2007 also saw Ohno as a contestant on ABC's popular Dancing with the Stars. He and his partner, Julianne Hough, received the first perfect score of 30 for their samba on the April 16th show. Ohno and his partner eventually reached the show's final round, alongside Laila Ali and Joey Fatone. Ohno and Julianne were named the season 4 winners on May 22, Ohno's 25th birthday.

Born: May 22, 1982
Died: --
Famous For: American short track speed skater.
Key Accomplishments: Five-time Olympic medalist; Reigning U.S. short track champion since 2001; Holds eight U.S. men's titles; Youngest American to win a World Cup Event (at age 17).
Significant Quote: 'Skating was a gift given to me, and it's a sport I love. I go out there every single day and there isn't a day I don't want to be out there.'

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