As a 17 year old, Eric Heiden competed in the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Games, finishing 7th in the 1500m and 19th in the 5,000m. His skating talent then blossomed and he won the overall title at the next three World Championships.
At the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games, Heiden won all five speed skating events from 500m all the way up to 10,000m, setting an Olympic record in every one. In the 1500m he almost fell halfway through, before recovering to win by 37 hundredths of a second. In his final 10,000m victory, Heiden broke the world record by 6.20 seconds.
He was the first person in history to win five gold medals in the same Olympic Games – indeed he won every single event available. This impressive feat marked the pinnacle of Heiden’s skating career.
After his success at Lake Placid, Heiden turned to cycling, won the 1985 US Professional Cycling Championship and competed in the 1986 Tour de France.