Gold Medal Contender

Tomorrow Shani Davis, an African-American speedskater in the Winter Olympics, will compete in the 1000m; he is a strong favorite to win the gold medal.

Davis announced on Feb. 10 that he would not participate in the team pursuits, which took place Feb. 15 and 16, because he wanted to focus on his individual races. This decision d dealt a severe blow to the United States’ hopes of a winning a gold medal in the new Olympic event. He finished seventh in the 5000m on the first day of the competition.

"I could care less what other people say about me,” he said in AP reports.”I didn’t come here to skate the team pursuit. I’ve been training all year for the 1000m,” Davis said. "I want to give myself the best opportunity in the 1000m. Skating the pursuit would take away from that. It’s not a difficult decision.”

"We’ve got skaters who are just here for the pursuit,” Davis said.”It wouldn’t be fair to them to take away their Olympic dreams. They deserve a chance to try for a gold medal. I feel like they’ll be ready to go, ” he continued.

Davis also will skate in the 1500m, and is qualified for the 10,000m. Davis is the first African-American to make a U.S. Olympic speed skating team. He qualified for the 2002 Salt Lake Games in short track, but did not skate.

“I think that it’s good that Blacks are finally being represented in the Winter Olympics. It’s unusual for Blacks to be involved in speedskating and bobsledding,” said Carlett Hervey, a freshman majoring in communications at El Camino College in California.

Vonetta Flowers and Randy Jones, two other African-American participants in the Winter Games are each gearing up for their competitions in bobsledding.

Vonetta Flowers will begin competing Feb. 18. Flowers’ partner Jean Prahm, her former opponent from the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, makes up one of America’s two bobsledding teams.

Randy Jones, the alternate member of the men’s bobsled team, will participate in the four-man competition Feb. 24-25. Jones started competing in bobsled shortly after his 1992 graduation from Duke University. He won a silver medal four years ago and these Olympic Games mark his fourth trip to the Olympics.

One Black college student is glad that the Winter Olympics have a larger percentage of minorities.

“The US winter team finally has some diversity and reflects our nations, compared to past years where everyone was European,” said Jamar Butler, a senior majoring in pre-physical therapy at Howard University.