Shani Davis, the first black athlete to claim an individual gold medal in Winter Olympic history, won a silver medal in Tuesday’s 1,500-meter race and ended his dispute with fellow speedskater Chad Hedrick a day after when the two shook hands.
After winning the Gold medal on Saturday in the 1,000-meter speedskating race, Davis said Wednesday at a ceremony that the entire episode between him and Hedrick was blown out of proportion. Hedrick won bronze in that race and a gold medal in the 5,000-meter race.
"I did my best, but fell a little short," Davis said in AP reports in regards to his silver medal. "To me, that’s more important than the handshake."
"Let me tell you, we’ve never been buddies," Hedrick said. "We’ve been acquaintances but it’s never been more than that. So for people to think there’s a big problem, it was crazy."
Howard University student, Sueann Tannis expressed that the teammates made a good decision in ending the feud.
"Ultimately it was their decision to be mature and make a decision that was best for the U.S. and for the U.S. team," said Tannis, a senior majoring in speech communications. "That was the only thing they could do in the spirit of good sportsmanship."
"I’m just very happy about my race," Davis said in AP reports, after winning the gold medal for the 1,000-meter race. "More than anything, the things I trained for, I was right about."
Howard student, Vincent S. Williams praised Davis for his gold medal win.
"As a native of the south side of Chicago and as a Black man, I’m extremely happy for Shani Davis winning the gold medal in the individual event. I think he skates very well," said Williams, a Master of Fine Arts candidate at Howard University.
"I’m one of a kind," Davis said in AP reports, fully aware of how much he stands out in the mostly white sport. "I’m a different type of person. I have a different charisma. A lot of people don’t understand me."
The controversy surrounding Davis’ decision to not compete in the team pursuit caused Eric Heiden, a speedskater who won five gold medals in the 1980 Lake Placid Games to say that Davis was not a team player.
"He is going his own way," said Heiden to AP. "He’s very different to a lot of speedskaters, and we have to respect that, but he is not a team player."
Davis came under fire for skipping the team pursuit, especially after a Hedrick-led squad was knocked out by Italy in the quarterfinals. The weak link on the team -a slow skater -might not have been on the ice if Davis was available. That loss denied Hedrick a chance to go after Heiden’s record of records, those five gold medals at Lake Placid.
Yet, other speedskaters saw nothing wrong with Davis’ decision.
"I like him as a person, I like him as a speedskater," said Erban Wennemars to AP, a speedskater from the Netherlands who won bronze in the 1,000-meter race. "What the United States thinks about him doesn’t matter because Shani is the Olympic champion, so he is right."