Shani Davis still has his poker face.
The 35-year-old Chicagoan said for the first time in his legendary speedskating career, he has allowed himself to think about failing as a means for motivation. So before he lined up for the 1,000-meter race Wednesday night at the U.S. Olympic long-track team trials — a chance to qualify for his fifth straight Olympic Games — he thought about what would happen if he didn’t make the team.
“I was all kinds of stressed out about it,” he said. “You would never see it on me. I’m smooth like that.”
Davis laughed but then revealed what earned him another career milestone.
“I just reminded myself how much work (I have done), how much experience I have,” he said.
Davis’ time of 1 minute, 9.22 seconds was second best of the day at Pettit National Ice Center, giving him one of three available spots on the U.S. men’s team for this event.
“As you can see, my teammates are extremely strong and fast,” he said. “I never used to worry about these things when I was young. It was more of an automatic thing. Today I found myself thinking what would happen if I wasn’t going to make the team. You should never think negative. But I went out there and fought like it was the last race of my career.”
Davis is a four-time Olympic medalist, winning two gold medals in the 1,000 meters. He became the first black athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in an individual event at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, at age 24. He repeated as 1,000-meter gold medalist in 2010 in Vancouver.
Like the rest of the U.S. speedskating team, Davis did not medal at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. His best World Cup finish in the 1,000 meters this season was 12th place.
“I’ve been making Olympic teams since I was 18, 19 years old,” he said. “I’m just honored I can still be strong enough at this day and age with all the things going on with me and my skating — the ups and downs — just being able to keep a solid head and staying motivated and believing in myself and not being easily discouraged or easily defeated or giving up. I’m really proud of myself.”
Davis also will compete at the Olympic trials this week in the 1,500 meters and 500 meters.
In the 1,000 meters, he finished behind winner Joey Mantia’s time of 1:09.14. Mitchell Whitmore became the third member to qualify for the U.S. in the event, finishing in 1:09.3.
In the women’s 1,000 meters, Heather Bergsma qualified for her third straight Olympics with a winning time of 1:14.82, and Brittany Bowe finished second in 1:15.52 to fill the qualifying spots.
Third-place finisher Mia Manganello (1:18.23) did not earn a spot on the team because she did not reach the Olympic qualifying time of 1:18. U.S. Speedskating may nominate fourth-place finisher Jerica Tandiman because although she did not earn the qualifying time at the trials she did clock a qualifying time at an approved event earlier in the season.
(Article written by Shannon Ryan.) (SOURCE: TNS)