Where African American History Is American History
Feb. 10, 2022

We Salute Shani Davis, The Great American Speed Skater

We Salute Shani Davis, The Great American Speed Skater

With the Winter Olympics in full swing, we thought we would highlight one of our favorite Olympians Shani Davis. 

On the south side of Chicago, when most people were wearing Michael Jordan T-shirts, Shani was wearing one Bonnie Blair, the prominent American speedskater of the '80s. At the age of two, Shani would skate fast around the roller rink that the skate guards would have to catch up to him to tell him to slow down. Shani's mom got him into speed skating at the age of 6 at the suggestion of a lawyer she was working for. 

Shani won five National Age Group Championships (1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2003) and won a North American Championship in 1999. Though Shani became the first Black speed skater to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team in 2002, Shani has never concentrated on making Black history. Shani began making skating history at age 17 when he became the first American skater to earn spots on both the short track and long track Junior World Team, accomplishing that feat three years in a row in 2000, 2001, and 2002.

At 22, Shani won his third consecutive U.S. All-Around Championship and Regional Qualifier (long track events) and became the first U.S. skater to make all three World Teams in the same season (World Sprint, World All-Around, and World Short Track), winning medals at all three events and ultimately winning the 2005 World Allround Championships in Moscow, Russia.

At 23, Shani won Gold and Silver at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy, and repeated his World All-Around Title in Calgary. In the 2006-2007 season, Shani won world titles in the 1000 meter and 1500 meter events. The following season (2007-2008), Shani repeated his 1000m World Title  The 2008-2009 season saw Shani win his first World Sprint Title in Moscow, Russia, and his third 1500m World Title in Vancouver.

In 2009-2010, at age 27, Shani broke two world records (1000m and 1500m), won Gold and Silver in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games — becoming the first man to repeat as Olympic 1000m Champion — and he won his third consecutive Overall World Cup Titles in the 1000 and 1500 meters.

As of 2019, Shani retired from speed skating and is now coaching in the sport. 

We salute Shani Davis's commitment to excellence and blazing a trail for the next generation of great American speedskaters. 





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