June 10, 2023
Today In Black History

Today In Black History: Shani Davis Becomes 1st Black To Win An Individual Gold Medal In The Winter Olympics.

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As Shani Davis took a final lap around the speedskating oval Saturday to celebrate his victory in the 1,000 meters, the first individual Olympic gold medal won by a black athlete in a Winter Games, an overwhelmingly Dutch crowd set aside color and nationalism to celebrate a spectacular performance. – The New York Times reported from Turin, Italy on February 19, 2006 

On this date in 2006, Shani Davis became the first Black to win an individual gold medal in Winter Olympic history.

He captured the men’s 1,000-meter speed skating race in Turin, Italy. After crossing the line and spotting his time, the first guy to break 1:09 on the slow Turin ice, Davis thrust his right fist in the air.

As he coasted along the back straightaway, he raised both arms toward the roof of the Olympic oval, and then put his hands on his head in obvious relief.

He also won a silver medal in the 1500 meter event. At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, he duplicated the feat, becoming the first man to successfully defend the 1000 meter gold medal, and repeating as 1500 meter silver medalist.

Davis won the all-around World Allround Championships in both 2005 and 2006, after winning the silver medal in 2004. In 2009 he won the World Sprint Championships in Moscow, the site of his first World Allround Championship victory. By winning he became the second male skater to have won both the Sprint and Allround in their career, after Eric Heiden. He has won six World Single Distance Championships titles, three at 1500 meters (in 2004, 2007 and 2009) and three at 1000 meters (in 2007, 2008 and 2011), and he led the United States to its first and only World Championship gold medal in the Team Pursuit event in 2011. He has won ten career Overall World Cup titles, six at 1000 meters (in 2006, 2008–10, 2012, 2014) and four at 1500 meters (2008–2011). Davis also earned the title of Grand World Cup Champion for the 2013-2014 season, earning the most points across all distances. His 58 career individual victories on the ISU Speed Skating World Cup circuit (through March 2014) place him second all-time among men.[2]

Davis has set a total of eight world records, three of them current (through January 2013): 1:06.42 over 1000 meters, 1:41.04 at 1500 meters, and 145.742 in allround samalog points. He also sits atop the world Adelskalender list after taking the lead from Sven Kramer in March 2009. The Adelskalender ranks the all-time fastest long track speed skaters by personal best times in the four World Allround Championship distances. Davis is known for his consistency and technical proficiency. Davis is native to Chicago, Illinois, and trains at two U.S. Olympic training facilities, the Pettit National Ice Center in West Allis, Wisconsin, and theUtah Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Davis was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Reginald Shuck, picked his son’s name (Shani) out of a Swahili dictionary. The English translation is a mixture of “light” and “weight”. Davis learned to roller skate at the age of 2. By the time he was 3, he could skate so quickly that he had to be slowed down by the rink’s skate guards. Davis’s mother worked for a local lawyer and speed skating official whose son was an elite level speed skater. At the lawyer’s suggestion, his mother enrolled her son at the Robert Crown Center in nearby Evanston when he was six years old. Within two months, Davis was winning regional races in his age groups, earning the admiration of his friends and Northbrook rivals alike.

Determined that her son reach his maximum potential, his mother would wake Davis up in the mornings to run a mile on a nearby track to build up his endurance. In order to be closer to his skating club, she and Davis moved from the neighborhood of Hyde Park to Rogers Park.

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