Shani Davis is a speed skater competing for the U.S. at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Here’s what you need to know about him:
1. He Was the First Black Athlete to Win Gold in an Individual Sport
Davis made history at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, by becoming the first African-American athlete to take the gold in an individual event, winning the 1,000-meter speed skate.
Watch him take the gold below.
2. He’s Rumored to be the Inspiration Behind Frozone From ‘The Incredibles’
Yes, Davis is rumored to have served as the inspiration behind Frozone, an African-American superhero voiced by Samuel L. Jackson in the 2004 movie The Incredibles. There are several Facebook groups on this subject.
Here’s a clip of Frozone. You be the judge.
3. He Began Skating as a Toddler
Davis, 31, was born and raised in the south side of Chicago by his mother. At age two, he began roller-skating at local rinks. According to his website, by age four, Davis was skating so fast that guards would chase him just to ask him to slow down.
4. He’s Been at the Center of Multiple Controversies
Davis has been at the center of multiple controversies, most notably in 2006 when he chose not to participate in the team pursuit event at the Turin Winter Olympics. He said he never committed to the event and wanted to instead focus on individual competitions.
He was pegged as a bad teammate for opting out of the event, in which the U.S. did not medal.
He also turned heads following his historic gold medal-winning performance in the 1,000-meter speed skate. He gave a tenuous interview with NBC’s Melissa Stark, when she infamously asked him “Are you angry Shani?”
Former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti wrote of Davis:
Doesn’t Shani understand the importance of exposure, especially if he wants to turn his victory snowball into an ‘avalanche’ that helps people discover the sport? Doesn’t he understand that millions of viewers were seeing him for the first time — and that all he did was justify some of the mean things being said about him by teammates and others? Apparently not”
5. He’s Set 8 World Records
Davis has set a total of eight world records, three of which still stand.
He currently owns the world record for the 1,000-meter speed skate (1:06.42), 1,500-meter speed skate (1:41.04) and allround samalog points (145.742).
Samalog — meaning “put together” or “total sum” — is a scoring system used to convert results into points in speed skating.
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