Unfortunately, we won’t be treated to the always exciting Apolo Anton Ohno in this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The long-time face of speedskating retired from competition following the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. With his career officially over, it’s time address the question of, is he the greatest Winter Olympian ever?
First, let’s take a look at his credentials. Ohno is the most decorated American Winter Olympian off all time. He’s won eight total medals in speedskating (two golds, two silvers, four bronze). In 2002 and 2006, he won his two gold medals in the 1500 meter and 500 meter respectively. He left the sport with one of his most decorated Olympic performances as he took home bronze medals in the 1,000 meter and 5,000 meter relay and silver in the 1500 meter.
Ohno’s impact on the sport of speedskating and the Winter Olympics as a whole has been substantial. Before Ohno came along, nobody had really heard of or cared about the sport of speedskating. His dominance in the sport brought it to the limelight in the United States and it became a highly watched and anticipated event. He boosted the sport and it’s better off for it.
As his celebrity grew, so did the sport. Ohno has appeared in a number of different commercials, but most notably in Subway commercials featuring “athletes everywhere.” He stands alongside gymnast Nastia Lukin and swimmer Michael Phelps, and rightfully so. Ohno is a celebrity of the Olympic Games. He’s responsible for making the sport of speedskating what it is. I remember when I was younger watching Ohno skate and dreaming about doing what he did out on that ice.
Just because he won’t be on the ice, it doesn’t mean he’ll be far away. NBC recently announced that he’ll join the speedskating coverage as a commentator. It should be pretty interesting hearing his input on what’s going on. It’s hard to beat the wisdom that the greatest ever can provide.
Ohno’s impact on speed skating and the Winter Olympics goes far beyond what he did on the ice. He’s an ambassador for the Olympics and practically made speedskating the popular Olympic’ sport that it is today. While others may try to make a strong case for greatest Winter Olympian ever, there’s no denying the greatness that Ohno carries with him wherever he goes for his contribution to the Winter Olympics and speed skating.