Professional athletes are always regarded as the luckiest people in the world. They have fame, money, and influence. But, what we all seem to miss is that there are many hardships that prelude success.
Apolo’s Japanese father Yuki inspired him to take up sports. Before taking an interest in short skating, he gained success at competitive swimming and in-line roller skating.
The moment he was accepted into the US Olympic Training Center, changed Apolo’s fortune as we know it, not to mention he was the youngest American to be accepted at the Lake Placid training center. Let’s have a look at his major achievements from the eye of a spectator.
From the Training Center to His First Olympics
Apolo’s training under Pat Wetland combined with the infrastructure available at the training center helped him improve the game. Starting in 1997, he won several championships in the US.
Byt the year 2001, Apolo was a force not to be reckoned with. His performance and sheer skill in the international short-track circuit got him what no other American player could have won, the World Cup Title.
The 2002 Olympics was a defining moment for Apolo as this is what he was training for all these years. From the moment he saw the winter Olympics games with his father in 1994 to actually performing – it was like a dream come true.
Apolo had to make do with a Silver Medal and Steven Bradbury took the gold medal (earlier he was at the last position). However, in the 1500 meter games, Apolo won a gold medal.
From the 2nd World Cup Title to Winning Dancing with the Stars
Not only in 2003, but he also won the world cup title in 2005, only to return to Olympics in 2006, where he won 4 medals, (one gold and three bronze). Also, Apolo was the only American to have achieved this feat in the 2006 Olympics.
Just as he made headlines in the sporting world, Apolo also drove everyone crazy with his dancing skills. Along with his dance partner, Julianne Hough, he won the 2007 competition.
In 2008, he returned to skating and won the short-track world championship along with several other world titles.
A Struggling Year to Winning Most Medals By an American
Apolo cleared the national rounds, winning his 10th National Championship. But, in the event Apolo was unable to defend his title and finished at the 5th position. In the 2010 Olympics, Apolo got a hold of his game, thanks to his fitness regimen.
Before the games, Apolo stated that, “I’ve never prepared like this in my life – for anything. I want to leave nothing on the table”.
It seemed that his preparation garnered Apolo a silver in 1500 meters and a bronze in 1000 meters. Winning these medals made America proud of Apolo as he passed Bonnie Blair in winning most Winter Games medals by an American.
In the same event Apolo had to face disqualification for the 500 meters event. But, he won a bronze along with his team in the 5000 meters relay event. This was his 8th medal.
The 2010 Vancouver olympics marked the end of Apolo’s stint with olympic skating. Come 2013, Apolo put down his papers to bid adieu to the skating rink, never to return again.
A player who played the game with his own style and got several accolades for not only his performance, but the sheer dedication towards the game. Apolo will be remembered as one of the gems of the American sports.