Shani Davis, Olympic Gold Medalist, Speed Skating
Shani Davis was born on Friday, August 13, 1982, in Chicago, Illinois. Raised by his mother on the city's south side, he started roller skating at local rinks at age two. Shani joined the Evanston Speedskating Club at age six and within two months started competing locally. Shani became the first Black speed skater to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team in 2002.
What got you started in your sport?
My mom would take me to the roller skating rink. I loved skating fast and playing the video games at the rink. I was pretty fast on roller skates, but because I loved it so much and wanted to go even faster, I gave speed skating a try.
What advice would you give to students about following their passion/their dreams?
My advice to students is to enjoy the moments of success and remember the hard work and dedication that it took to get where you are. When you are tested, pull from all of those memories to push yourself harder and longer. Embrace the shortcomings and simply because it does not go your way the first time you try, do not give up. Just keep working hard. It is a process to get to your goals and you cannot skip steps.
How do you give back?
People usually view giving back as material items, but I feel giving back is more than that. I want to make sure that when my supporters, the fans, and the kids come to watch speed skating that I am giving 100%. I do everything to the best of my ability so when people come and watch I am at my best.