Speed skater Hashimoto’s flame burns bright
Seiko Hashimoto was arguably born to compete on the Olympic stage. Born in 1964, just a few days before the start of that year's Games in Tokyo, she was named after “Seika”, the city's Olympic flame.
And she would go on become one of a small group of athletes who competed in both the Summer and Winter Games. As well as being a skilled speed skater she was also a gifted track cyclist, and went on to represent Japan in both sports. This meant that, remarkably, she took part in seven Games within the space of 12 years between 1984 and 1996!
However, her only appearance on the podium came in 1992, in the women’s 1,500m speed skating. Given that she had traditionally been strongest in the shorter sprint events it was something of a surprise.
The race was expected to be a clash between two established stars – Austria's Emese Hunyady and the German Gunda Niemann. Instead, it was much more open than anticipated, thanks in part to the effect of the warm conditions. Hunyady ended up finishing out of the medals in fifth place, while Niemann took silver behind team-mate Jacqueline Börner. And, there in third place at the end, was Hashimoto, a full second slower than Niemann, but comfortably clear of the rest of the field. The woman born under an Olympic star, now had an Olympic medal.