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2014 Winter Olympics And A Forgotten Hero

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Eric Heiden Won 5 of These in 1980

Eric Heiden Won 5 of These in 1980

The 2014 Winter Olympics begin on February 7th and end on the 23rd.  It is hard to believe it has been 4 years already since the last Olympics.  If you recall, that was the 30 year anniversary of the miracle on ice. When I began writing today’s topic, I thought I would take a look at the progress athletes had made over the years in getting faster at some events. I decided to look at speed skating and cross-country skiing.  Even though the events are a set distance they are held outdoors and are subject to weather conditions which can affect the speed and thus the time to complete.  I have two races listed at the end; men’s 15 Km cross-country skiing and men’s 10,000 meter speed skating.

As I was doing research for this topic I realized that there is another story that needs a mention.  One that gets forgotten since it happened at the same Olympics as the “miracle on ice”.  That hockey victory over the USSR was very dramatic but many people forget that it was not the gold medal game.  The unforgotten story of the 1980 Winter Olympics was that of speed skater Eric Heiden.

What he did in that Olympics was never done before and has never been done again.  He won all 5 Gold medals in the speed skating events.  He won them in grand fashion by setting 4 Olympic and 1 World record while winning his events.  That is not the most impressive thing about his success in that Olympic competition. His most amazing feat was that he won at all distances, sprints and long-distance events.  His events were; the 500, 1000, 1500, 5000 and 10,000 meter and he swept them all! 

Heiden went on to a career in bicycle racing winning the US professional cycling championship and competing in the Tour De France.   He was named by ESPN as the 46th best athlete of the 20th Century  in 1999.  After his bicycle racing career he graduated from Stanford with an M.D in 1991.

Faster, Better, Stronger

Faster, Better, Stronger

Have a great week and enjoy the Olympics.

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