Speed Skater Apolo Ohno to be Inducted Into US Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame
Retired short track speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno will be inducted into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame in November, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) announced on Monday.
Ohno, 37, is regarded as the most decorated American Olympian at the Winter Olympics, having won two gold, two silver and four bronze medals throughout his career.
Ohno will be honored and inducted with eight other individuals, one team, two legends, one coach and one special contributor at an awards dinner at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs on Nov. 1.
“Honored and humbled,” the Olympian tweeted. “The lessons learned from this incredible journey keep giving! Teamwork 100%.”
Ohno, a Seattle area native, is the first short track speed skater to be inducted in the Olympic Hall of Fame. His nomination in August comes nearly 10 years after his retirement.
“For a guy who has broken barriers in the sport of short track for the U.S., where short track was not really recognized, his accomplishment, his look, his style, the interviews he did, it really helped bring the sport to the foreground,” Ohno’s former coach, Patrick Wentland, told the Seattle Times. “It’s not just the physical accomplishments of the medals, it’s what he has done for the sport overall and what he continues to do for it.”
Finalists for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame are decided based on votes from the public, U.S. Olympians and Paralympians, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic family, which consists of the USOPC board of directors, the Athletes’ Advisory Council, national governing bodies, multisport organizations, corporate partners and members of the media.
“The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame represents the pinnacle of competitive excellence in our nation, and its inspiring members are champions who have transcended sport through the legacy they leave both on and off the field of play,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a statement. “It’s an honor to welcome the class of 2019 into this prestigious and celebrated honor roll. We thank them for their impact on sport and society, and for continuing to inspire the next generation of athletes and fans.”
Ohno, who is half-Japanese, wanted to become a professional speed skater from a young age. His dad, a single father who immigrated from Japan, supported his dream.
“My father instilled in me at a very young age that anything was possible, but it would require me to go above and beyond what normal societal belief systems are,” he previously told NextShark. “I took that to heart.”
Ohno said his father drove him all over the country during competitions. He credits him for the success he has achieved in his career.
“My dad is like my best friend, he’s my partner, he’s my teammate, he’s my coach and my mentor and he’s also my father, kind of all encompassed into one,” Ohno said. “He told me when I was very young, ‘surround yourself with positive people who are smarter than you, who are better than you, and believe that you have the answers for yourself and listen to your instincts, listen to your gut and also listen to your inner voice.”
Other Hall of Fame inductees include Candace Cable (Para alpine skiing, Para Nordic skiing, Para track and field), Lisa Leslie (basketball), Nastia Liukin (gymnastics), Misty May-Treanor (beach volleyball), Erin Popovich (Para swimming), Dara Torres (swimming), Chris Waddell (Para alpine skiing, Para track and field), the 1998 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team, John Carlos (legend: track and field), Tommie Smith (legend: track and field), Ron O’Brien (coach: diving) and Tim Nugent (special contributor).
This year’s inductees, the first since 2012, will be the 16th class inducted into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame, making a total of 154 inductees.