Apolo Anton Ohno

Apolo Anton Ohno Biography

Apolo Anton Ohno is an Olympic champion speed skater who holds the record for most medals won by a U.S. Winter Olympian.

Who Is Apolo Anton Ohno?

Born in 1982 in Seattle, Apolo Anton Ohno started training at age fourteen. In 1997 he won the U.S. short-track speed skating championship and in 2002 he scored silver and gold at the Winter Olympics. 

He returned to the Olympics in 2006 and 2010, winning a record eight medals for a U.S. Winter Olympian. He also competed and won on the fourth season of Dancing with the Stars.

Early Career

Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno was born on May 22, 1982, in Seattle, Washington. Already an experienced swimmer and in-line skater, Apolo Anton Ohno was inspired to take up speedskating after watching the 1994 Winter Olympics with his father Yuki. He quickly emerged as a leading short-track skater.

When Ohno was only 14, he trained with U.S. national speedskating coach Pat Wentland in Lake Placid, New York. Away from home and his friends, Ohno rebelled against the rigors of training, choosing to eat pizza instead of complete required runs. In 1997, Ohno scored his first major victory, winning the U.S. short-track championship.

Many believed Ohno would be a shoo-in for the 1998 U.S. Olympic team, but he made a disappointing showing at the Olympic trials. After the trials, his father took him to an isolated cabin in Washington to give him time to contemplate his future away from any distractions. 

Only 15 years old, Ohno faced a difficult decision regarding whether to continue competing. During his week of solitude, he decided to become more disciplined, and to train harder to excel at his sport.

Olympic Wins

With his newly found dedication, Ohno went to become the overall champion at the 1999 Junior World Championships and at the 2000-2001 World Cup. Making the 2002 Olympic team, he scored silver and gold at the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

In the 1,000-meter event, Ohno was injured when several skaters crashed, but he was able to complete the race to win a silver medal. A disqualification led to his first gold medal, when a South Korean skater was found to have illegally blocked Ohno from passing him.

Continuing his career as a superior skater, Ohno earned the title of overall champion at the 2002-2003 and 2004-2005 World Cup events. He also won gold for the 1,000-meter and 3,000-meter events at the 2005 World Championships. 

Returning to Olympic competition in 2006, Ohno won gold in the 500-meter event. He scored two bronze medals for the 1,000-meter and 5,000-meter relay competitions.

Dancing with the Stars

In 2007, Ohno showed his prowess in another arena: the dance floor. He joined the cast of hit series Dancing with the Stars—which pairs famous amateurs with professional ballroom dancers—for its fourth season, battling the likes of former model Paulina Porizkova; country singer-actor Billy Ray Cyrus; and television host Leeza Gibbons. 

Ohno and his partner, Julianne Hough, won the competition, beating out former boy band 'N Sync member Joey Fatone in the finals.

Ohno also continued to train during this time, and in December 24, 2007, he won his ninth national title in the 1,000-meter and the 1,500-meter short-track races. The next year, he placed first in the 500-meter race during the 2008 World Championships in South Korea, and he won his tenth national title in 2009.

In 2012, Ohno was invited back to Dancing with the Stars for the show's 15th season: Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars.

Record-Breaking Medal Win

In anticipation of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Ohno took on a strict training regimen. With diet and exercise, he lost more than 20 pounds and nearly doubled the amount of weight he could lift. 

In peak physical condition, Ohno was able to defend his national title during the U.S. Olympic trials in September 2009 and won the meet overall. During the 2010 Games, Ohno earned a silver in the 1500-meter, then snagged the overall silver in the 1000-meter. With that victory, Ohno won his eighth medal and broke the record for most medals won by a U.S. Winter Olympian.

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