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Olympics

Athletes Then & Now: Apolo Ohno

As Apolo Ohno celebrates his triumphant performance in Vancouver, we look back to when Ohno was just another 12-year-old dreaming of Olympic glory.

In 1994, 12-year-old Apolo Ohno watched the speed skaters at the Lillehammer Olympics with rapt interest. Bearing a first name that translates from Greek into "steering away from" ("Ap") and "look out, here he comes" ("lo"), the preteen seemed destined for a future in the fast and competitive sport. Three years later, under the tutelage of Pat Wentland at Lake Placid's Olympic Training Center, Ohno captured his first overall U.S. short-track title, the youngest-ever to accomplish the feat. Disappointingly, he didn't make the '98 Olympics squad, but continued racking up stellar performances, placing first at the 1999 World Junior Championships, and becoming the first American to claim the overall World Cup, in 2001. The following year he was finally off to the Olympics, taking gold in the 1,500-meter (2002) and 500-meter (2006) speed-skating events. Ohno proved just as graceful out of skates, whisking partner Julianne Hough to the Dancing with the Stars title in 2007.

The soul-patched phenom is back in Vancouver for what might be his adieu from the sport at the ripe old age of 27. He's left quite an impression in more than just the ice. Last weekend he collected his seventh medal -- the bronze, in the 1,000-meter short-track -- to become the most decorated American Winter Olympian (two gold, two silver, and three bronze) of all time. But all that hard-earned weight hasn't gone to his head. "I never came into these Olympic games to break records," he told Time last week. "I do this sport because I love it."

(Created by Sodahead.com)

Video:Apolo class act on and off iceSodaHead.com:Smoking cigars and drinking beer after Canadian women team wins hockey gold. Are you offended?SI Vault:Ohno could become the Olympics biggest star (2.4.02)SI Vault: Ohno unfazed by sudden fame (12.13.04)SI Vault: Ohno closes in on U.S. Olympic history (2.22.10)

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