Shani Davis was only two years old when he started to roller skate. He liked the sensation of speed so much that the skating rink monitors had to step in and slow him down. Later on, his parents wisely decided to introduce him to speed skating. This fan of video games quickly got the hang of it, so much so that he qualified for the national team, in both speed skating and short track speed skating – quite a rare occurrence!
In 2004 and 2005, the American won his first major competitions, with gold medals in the World Championships. At the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, Shani Davis competed in three events. In the 1,000m, he earned himself the Olympic title, ahead of his partner, Joey Cheek, and the Dutch skater, Wennemars. He then earned himself an impressive silver medal, just behind the Italian hero, Enrico Fabris, and ahead of his other partner, Chad Hedrick. Despite being a good all-round skater, as proved by his seventh place in the 5,000m, his talent was best expressed in the 1,000m and 1,500m. He won several world titles in 2007 and 2009, also breaking world records in these distances.
In 2010, at the Olympic Games in Vancouver, Shani Davis would go down in the history of the 1,000-metre event. The last competitor to start, he had the benchmark of the two times produced by his two greatest opponents, Hedrick and Korea’s Tae-Bum Mo, who were in second and first position at that point. Shani Davis beat them by 18 hundredths of a second, retaining his Olympic title – a feat which nobody else has ever achieved over this distance.
Repeating his feats is something that this Chicago native must enjoy! Indeed, in the 1,500m, Shani was again the last to take to the ice. Although he managed to defeat Norway’s Bokko by three hundredths of a second, slipping into second place, he could not beat the best time produced by Dutchman Tuitert. Like four years previously, the African American left the Games with gold and silver medals around his neck, winning them in exactly the same events as he had done in Turin in 2006!