Shani Davis content as he chases Olympic history

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 7, 2014 at 7:36 am •  Published: February 7, 2014
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Shani Davis glided around the ice Friday at Adler Arena — hands clasped behind his back, lost in his thoughts as he prepared for a run at Olympic history.

He looked downright content, a speedskater who knows his legacy is secure no matter what happens in Sochi.

"It still really hasn't hit me that it's the Olympics," Davis said during a lengthy chat in the mixed zone after his brief workout. "I'm still just on autopilot, man."

At age 31, he'll be competing in his third Winter Games at this resort city along the Black Sea. Already a two-time champion in the 1,000 meters, Davis can become the first male speedskater to pull off a three-peat in the same event.

He wants the gold.

Badly.

Yet it won't ruin his life if he doesn't get it.

"You train really hard. You try really hard to win," Davis said. "If you win, great. If you don't, you tried your best. You really can't beat yourself up about it. There are so many people that train all their lives to win something or even just to get here, and a lot of people come away empty-handed. I'll say it again: I'm very blessed to have the things that I have."

What he has is impressive.

In addition to four Olympic medals — Davis also claimed silver in the 1,500 at both Turin and Vancouver — he's one of only two men to win world championships in both sprint and allround. The other is Eric Heiden, who skated in an era with less specialization.

"That's an incredible achievement," said Gerard Kemkers, a coach for the powerful Dutch team. "I think Shani is one of the greatest Olympians in American history."

Davis didn't always embrace that role, shying away from any attempts to turn him into a household name in the U.S. While his achievements were duly appreciated in the speedskating-crazy Netherlands, he was perhaps best-known in his own country for a feud with teammate Chad Hedrick. The dispute turned especially nasty after a race in Turin where they both won Olympic medals, prompting Davis to storm angrily off the podium, muttering "same ol' Chad" on his way out the door.

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