I have great admiration for Apolo Anton Ohno, not only for his athletic agility but also for his personal attributes which are over and above those which are commonly seen in other champion athletes.
The 27-year-old Apolo competes in short track speed skating in which he has won eight Olympic medals – two gold, two silver, and four bronze. This year, he surpassed Bonnie Blair as the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete of all time. He might have achieved a ninth medal in 2010 except that he was disqualified for interference in the Men’s Short Track 500 meter finals. He and many others, including myself, do not believe that he should have been disqualified. Apolo explained that he had put his hand out for protection, not to interfere with the skater’s performance. Having seen the clip several times and sensing Apolo’s penchant for honesty, I feel certain that this is an accurate summation of his actions. To his credit, Apolo accepted the ruling with grace and dignity.
Apolo is truly a role model for younger skaters as well as all young people who need to identify with a celebrated human being. In a TV interview, he related to Bob Costa that as a youngster he rebelled against his father’s training him as a skater. His father took Apolo out to a cabin in the woods, told him to decide what he wanted to do with his future, and left him there for several days. Chastened a bit from the ordeal, he made the decision to continue on with his skating career.
After the 2010 Olympics, when interviewers prodded him to reveal his plans for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Apolo seemed to sidestep the possibility of competing again in 2014. He instead said that he might be involved in other pursuits and cannot guarantee that he will go to Sochi. He hinted that he might like to pursue some sort of career in the entertainment field. This is understandable since Apolo was a winner in 2007 of the reality show “Dancing with the Stars.”
Several national and international companies have sponsored Apolo’s Olympic efforts. These include McDonald’s, General Electric, Vicks and Coca-Cola. He has his own charity, the Apolo Anton Ohno Foundation which discourages underage drinking and promotes a healthy lifestyle.
It is small wonder that I, and many others, look to Apolo to spread the news of the benefits of his mode of existence through his many appearances on TV, visits to children’s venues, videos, and his charitable causes.
We love you, Apolo. Keep up the good work!
NBC TV – XXI Winter Olympics
Labels: Apolo Anton Ohno - a Profile of My Favorite Sports Figure