Apolo Ohno was born May 22, 1982 in Seattle, Wash. His Japanese-born father,Yuki Ohno, and his American-born mother Jarrie Lee Ohno raised Apolo. His parents were divorced when he was just an infant and he barely visited his mother, nor did he know he had an older half-brother until 2002.
Yuki thought that Apolo would be a “latchkey kid” when he grew up because he wasn’t dedicated to a sport. Therefore Yuki got Apolo to get involved in competitive swimming, quad-speed rollerskating, and later on inline skating at the age of 6. After training for a swim meet, Yuki and Apolo watched the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games. Apolo was fascinated when he saw the speedskating event. This fascination lead to Apolo’s determination to become an Olympian.
Apolo trained with Pat Wetland, the U.S. national speedskating coach, in Lake Placid at the age of 14. Apolo trained night and day, skating on the oval ice perfecting his footwork and turns. Although sometimes he chose junk food instead of practicing, Apolo practiced with persistence and dedication.
By 15 years of age, Apolo was a favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team, but fell flat at the Olympic trials. Apolo’s father Yuki was furious, not because he got dead last, but because Apolo gave up when he saw that he was losing. So Yuki brought Apolo to a confined cabin in Washington and told Apolo to think about what he wants to do with his future. On the eighth day of solitude, sitting on the porch in the pouring rain, Apolo decided to become more adapted to become better at speed skating.
After rededicating himself, Apolo became the 1999 Junior World Champion along with the 2000-01 World Cup. Then Apolo went to the 2002 Olympic trials and got first in the competition. After making the 2002 Olympic team, he scored silver and gold in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Continuing his career as an admirable skater, he earned the overall champion title at the 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 World Cup events. He was also entitled to winning gold for the 1,000- and 3.000-meter events at the 2005 World Championships.
Returning to the Olympic competition in 2006, he won the gold in the 500-meter event, then scored two bronze medals for the 1,000- and 5,000-meter relay events, bringing his total to five Olympic medals.
At the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, Apolo Ohno achieved breaking the record of most medals won by an American. Upon obtaining his seventh Olympic medal, he stated that he had finally reached “seventh heaven.” He held seven fingers in the air claiming he broke the record of Bonnie Blair. He also won his eighth medal (bronze) in the 500-meter event, and now Apolo Ohno is the most decorated American Olympian of all time.
Lauren Mance is a sixth-grader at Academy of the Holy Names