Ohno seeks record 7th medal

  • By Chris Kuc Chicago Tribune
  • Friday, February 19, 2010 10:59pm
  • SportsSports

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Just a few thousand meters separate Apolo Anton Ohno from making history.

The Seattle native has six medals in his Olympic career, tying him with Bonnie Blair for most by an American in Winter Games history. Ohno can win No. 7 tonight when he competes in the men’s 1,000-meter short-track event.

“The 1,000 is a very tough race,” said Ohno, a three-time Olympian. “The first round of the quarterfinals are going to be ridiculously stacked. They could be finals themselves.”

South Korean skaters Sung Si-Bak, Lee Ho-Suk and Lee Jung-Su, along with U.S. teammate J.R. Celski and Canadian Charles Hamelin, figure to be formidable opponents for Ohno, who is a two-time Olympic medalist in the event (bronze in 2006 and silver in 2002).

The 27-year-old Ohno, who will also compete in the 500 meters and in the 5,000-meter relay, captured silver in the 1,500 last Saturday to surpass Eric Heiden for most medals by an American male.

“I’ve come into this Olympics Games in the best shape of my life mentally and physically and I have no pressures,” Ohno said. “I’m going out here because I love it. I’ve won my sixth Olympic medal and I’ve just been so happy the way I’ve been skating (and) the way I’ve prepared that truly everything else is just icing on the cake.

“Winning the Olympic medal to me is an amazing experience. It’s the top 1 percent of all the athletes in the world. I’m so lucky to have more events to compete in. There are many other athletes who only have just one chance to medal. I luckily have the opportunity to possibly medal in three more events. That to me is just an incredible opportunity, and honestly I’m just enjoying the journey every step of the way.”

The silver in the 1,500 came in a race filled with bumping and jostling, and Ohno and Celski (bronze) took advantage when two South Koreans in front of them crashed in the final turn.

“The pace is going to be very, very fast,” Ohno said. “There’s probably going to be a lot more contact again. Everything’s going to be tight. I think I’ve proved to myself and to many of the other athletes the kind of power I’ve brought to these Games, the strength, and that I’m a much different skater than they’ve ever seen.”

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