Apolo Ohno In Perspective

Apolo Ohno is the now the most decorated American winter olympian, but are his 7 medals – two gold, two silver and three bronze more impressive than Bonnie Blair’s 6 medals, 5 of them gold or the 5 individual gold medals Eric Heiden won at Lake Placid? Is the comparison even fair? All three are speed skaters, but only Ohno skates short track, an unpredictable sport more like roller derby than pure racing. In fact, it’s not pure speed or pacing that wins, there is a fair bit of strategy and improvisation involved. Heiden swept the golds in all the individual speed skating events he entered at Lake Placid, pure dominance the likes of which only Americans Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps have ever achieved at a single games. Blair and Ohno might be a better comparison because they both medaled in 3 games. This level of endurance and consistency is quite impressive, perhaps even more so in the case of Ohno given that so few, perhaps none other than Ohno have competed in short track over the span of three olympic games.

Ohno is the most decorated American winter olympian ever in terms of medal count. Is he the most dominant winter olympian ever? I submit that both Blair and Heiden should retain that title. Is it possible to dominant the sport of short track? No, but I think it is safe to say that Apolo Ohno is the greatest short track racer in history given his longevity and consistency. It will be hard for another racer to match his medal accomplishments on the short track ice.

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