by Angela Haupt
January 28, 2014
Of all the speedskaters, in all the Olympic Games, Apolo Ohno stands apart. He’s the one with eight medals, including two golds – making him the most decorated Olympic skater and U.S. Winter Olympian of all time. Consider the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, when Ohno sliced his left leg open, but still managed to crawl across the finish line to capture a silver medal. He then rode to the podium in a wheelchair before getting six stitches to close the gash. Years later, before the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Ohno dropped 20 pounds on a strict diet and fitness regimen and boasted that no athlete was more fit than him.
Though he remains the icon of his sport, Ohno, 31, who lives in Los Angeles, is now retired. When the 2014 Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi on Feb. 7, he’ll trade his skates for a sports correspondent gig with NBC. Ohno talked with U.S. News about his diet and how he prepped for competitions mentally, along with his advice for first-time Olympic athletes:
What are the months and weeks leading up to the Olympics like for athletes?
It’s usually very interesting because you’re in or finishing Olympic trials, and you’re in the final prep stage before you face the rest of the world in the hopes of getting a medal at the games. A lot of it is mind preparation, and a lot of it is technical. You’re trying to stay healthy. You’re not training as hard, but you’re still training very intensely – you’re just not doing a lot of long training. And from there, it’s a lot about the internal battle with yourself: Are you good enough? Have you trained hard enough? All those questions come into your mind, and hopefully you get all those things right so you can answer them right.