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Shani Davis is competing in the Winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver in speed skating.

American Shani Davis heads to Vancouver as the overwhelming favorite in the 1000m and 1500m. During the 2009-10 World Cup season, Davis won all four 1000m races. He also won four golds and one silver in the 1500m, breaking his own world record in that event at the final meet in Salt Lake City. Davis is the runaway standings leader in both of those races. In addition, he has said he will likely skate in the team pursuit, giving him a third shot at a medal. He may also skate in the 500m or 5000m.

Davis earned his place in the history books in Torino, becoming the first African-American to claim an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics, when he won the 1000m ahead of teammate Joey Cheek. Davis also took silver in the 1500m in Torino. "I'm one of a kind,'' Davis said after winning the 1000m, acknowledging his athletic success in a sport with mostly white competitors. In fact, Davis was the first African-American to even qualify for the U.S. speed skating team. In 2002, he was the first to qualify for the U.S. short track team, selected as a relay alternate, but Davis did not compete in Salt Lake City.

Davis has performed consistently well on the international level since Torino. He defended his World Allround Championship title in 2006. "To me, this is bigger than the Olympics," Davis said of the win. "This medal is prestigious. Not only do you have to skate 500 meters, but you have to skate 10,000, you have to skate a 1500 and a 5000 and you only have two days to do it." In 2007, Davis won the world titles in the 1000m and 1500m. He then defended his 1000m title in 2008, and took bronze in the 1500m, and finished third at the 2008 World Allround Championships. In 2009, Davis won the overall title at the World Sprint Championships, and won the 1500m at World Single Distance Championships.

Davis's love of skating began when he was about 2 ½ years old, when his mother took him roller skating. Davis switched to the ice when he was 6 after his mother, who was working as a legal assistant at a law firm for longtime speed skating official Fred Benjamin, typed up the minutes of the Illinois Speed skating Association. After asking Benjamin about the sport, Shani's mother began shuttling him up to the Evanston Speedskating Club. When Shani was about 10, he and his mother moved to Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood to be closer to the rink.

At age 16, Davis was accepted into the development residency program in Lake Placid. It was then that he decided he wanted to one day make the Olympic team. He lived in Lake Placid for about one year, and the following year he moved to Marquette, Michigan, for more development programs. In 1999, Davis earned berths on the short-track and long-track teams at the junior world championships and made national team status. Unable to train with the U.S. short-track team in Colorado Springs (because there isn't a long track there) Davis moved again in 2001, this time crossing the border to train in Calgary, where he skated under former world champion Derrick Campbell of Canada.


SHANI DAVIS: FACTS

How tall is Shani Davis? How old is Shani Davis? Where does Shani Davis live? Find out here.

Age: 32 years old
Birthday: August 13, 1982
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 185 lbs.
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Current Residence: Milwaukee, WI


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Shaun White and Scotty Lago Half of All Americans Watch First 7 Days of Vancouver 2010 Games — Over its first week, 152 million Americans have tuned in to watch the Olympics, with an average audience of 26.6 million for the first seven nights, nearly 6 million more and 27% higher than 2006. Read more...
Hannah Kearney 97 Million Watch First 2 Days of Vancouver Games — 55 million total viewers and 26.2 million average audience for Saturday night is higher than every single night of the Torino games. Read more...
Lindsey Vonn Most-Watched Opening Ceremony Ever for Non-USA Winter Olympics — 67.5 million viewers watched opening ceremony on NBC; 17 million more than Torino and nearly 6 million more than tabloid-fueled Lillehammer Games in '94. Read more...

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