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This Day in Black History: Shani Davis becomes first African American athlete to win gold medal in Winter Olympics

Olympic Champion Shani Davis

HOUSTON – Olympic Champion Shani Earl Davis was born on Aug. 13, 1982 in Chicago, Illinois.

At the age of 16, Davis participated in a development program for young speed skaters. A year later, Davis moved to Marquette, Michigan to further his Olympic dreams. Davis attended and graduated from Marquette Senior High School and ran track his senior year.

In 2000, Davis became the first U.S. skater to make the long and short track teams at the Junior World Team. About three years later, Davis decided to jump from junior to men’s speed skating. On Feb. 8, 2004, Davis won a silver medal at the World Allround Long Track Championships in Hamar, Norway. In the same year, he became a world champion at the World Single Distance Championships in Seoul, Korea.

In 2005, Davis won a bronze medal at the World Short Track Championships in Beijing, China. Davis also became a world champion in the World Allround Speedskating Championships for the second consecutive year.

On Feb. 18, 2006, Davis became the first African American athlete to win a gold medal in an individual event at the Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

Today, Davis’ achievements continue to flourish and he uses his platform to inspire others to live out their dreams. After the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, Davis created Inner City Excellence (ICE) in Washington D.C. to encourage and support children of all backgrounds to find their inner excellence.

A few of Shani Davis’ well-deserved accomplishments:

2016 — Career World Cup Points Leader at ISU World Cup in Heerenveen, The Netherlands

2015 — World Champion – 1000 m at ISU World Single Distance Championships in Heerenveen, The Netherlands

2013-2014 — Grand World Cup Champion at ISU World Cup

2012 — 10,000 Career World Cup points at ISU World Cup in Harbin, China

2011 — World Cup Champion – 1000 m at ISU World Cup Final in Berlin, Germany

2010 — Olympic Gold Medal – 1000 meters at 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada