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Apolo Ohno: Next Asian American Olympic Hero?
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 05:58:06 PM)

e's the U.S. athlete most likely to lead the medal count at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, with an even chance of winning gold in all four short track speedskating events. What's more, the 19-year-old half-Japanese kid comes with a backstory that's sure to add cache and even a dab of poignance to his achievement. Apolo Ohno
     Apolo Anton Ohno exploded onto the speedskating scene at the absurd age of 14 when he became the U.S. national men's speedskating champion. In 1999 and 2000 he came in first overall in the World Cups in China and Canada. He lost last year's World Championship to South Corean Kim Dong-Sung, but came right back to set a new world short-track record of 2 minutes, 13.728 seconds in the 1,500-meter in December's U.S. Olympic trials.
     At those same trials Ohno became caught in a scandal that may only add badboy cache to his Olympic exploits -- he was accused of deliberately coming in third in the 1,000-meter race in order to ensure an Olympic berth for close buddy Shani Davis, the first Black to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Team. Davis's win bumped 1998 Olympian Tommy O'Hare off the team. O'Hare filed a complaint with the U.S. Olympic Committee. The arbitrator bought Ohno's story that, having racked up more than enough points to qualify for all four short-track events, he had simply decided to play it safe. But the suspicion lingers that Ohno had rigged a race to help a buddy, especially when it finds support in the testimony of two skeptical referees and of three other teammates who heard Ohno and Davis rigging the race.
     Then there's the poignance.
     Apolo Ohno was raised entirely by father Yuki who had immigrated alone from Tokyo at the age of 18. Yuki dropped out of accounting studies at Seattle City College in favor of the less cerebral profession of cosmetology. He opened his own Seattle beauty salon and enjoyed enough success to party hearty with other young hairdressers. He was 36 before marrying Apolo's mother. The marriage ended within a year, putting Yuki in the unfamiliar position of having to provide mothering and a stable home for his infant son. To make ends meet Yuki had to moonlight at a second salon. That left many unsupervised hours for Apolo. His after-school mischief with friends became worrisome. Yuki got him involved in swimming and in-line skating, then after watching a short-track race from the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games, he hooked Apolo up with the sport in which he would make his mark. He was so surprisingly good, in fact, that father and son set their sights on qualifying for the 1998 Nagano games. The combination of pressure and inexperience proved too much. In the Olympic trials Apolo came in 16th out of 16 hopefuls and failed to make the team. For some time his ultimate comeback was doubtful, then painful, but ultimately successful beyond the Ohnos' wildest expectations.
     And now Apolo Anton Ohno twinkles as the pole star in the U.S. quest for a record-setting 20 medals in Salt Lake City. Those bright metal tokens won't come easy. Ohno must pit cunning, muscle and heart against better seasoned Corean and Chinese foes in the 500-meter, 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter individual races, then pull the team in the 5,000-meter relay. Ohno's spandex may not throw off the glamour of Michele Kwan's ice dresses but this February millions of new aficianados will likely thrill to the wicked glint of steel slashing in switchblade duels on the unforgiving short track.
     Will Apolo Ohno leave Salt Lake City as the next American Olympic hero? Or has he already disqualified himself with his badboy image?

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i'm not asian or anything, but i stumbled across this site looking for some info on ono for a report. i remember watching him on tv during the olympics and thinking ono is some sneaky ass guy~ he took the perfect opportuninty to make it look like that korean dude bumped into him to win the gold. i would be ashamed of having a gold metal i didnt' deserve hence cheated myslef out of.
   Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 08:58:12 (PST)    []
I love Apolo. He surely shows what is good in a man and sportsmanship.
   Sunday, December 22, 2002 at 18:38:23 (PST)    []
Have you noticed that when it is the father who is Asian and the mother non-Asian the child turns out georgeous? Like for instance, Paul Kariya, Dean Cain, Rae Dawn Chong, and of course Russell Wong; this doesn't seem to be the case when it is the other way around, with Asian mothers and white fathers. Perhaps this is because of the nature of the very special and beautiful relationship between an Asian man and a white female. Let me explain; name the one group of people who have been stereotyped, ridiculed and stigmatized so fiercely, it reaches all the way to perhaps its most personal essence, his manhood. No other group has had to endure the most seering of perceptual diminishment than the Asian man. What group has had to overcome falsely wideheld beliefs of diminutive physical stature, sexual potency, genitalia, social agressiveness, etc., than the Asian man? And of course beautiful, elegant, petite, pampered white women, living in a white pretty world where nothing goes wrong and everything is taken care of. Living in a sterilized world where "foriegn contaniments" are out of the question". The epitomy of style and the ideal of beauty could never be with a chow-mein cook, she has to be with an equally beautiful white man!
These two groups, having waded and pushed through these obstacles and social perceptions, manage to overcome that and see each other's inner beauty.
The Asian man and the white woman, mucking through all the societal walls and ignorant filth to find each other in nothing but purity. The Asian man and the white woman; perhaps the most beautiful union in the world.
   Saturday, December 14, 2002 at 04:55:52 (PST)    []
yeah me 2 i wana see the pic of him and his g/f i am crushed i am soo sad cus i love apolo he is the hottest damn person in the world I LOVE HIM!!!!
JESSICA    Tuesday, November 26, 2002 at 13:48:20 (PST)    []
o and uh one more thing... when I was checking out some of my corean cousins grammar... I was puzzled to find out what they meant by the phrase "ohno-like" or an "ohno-action" or "you pulled an ohno". When I asked my cousin, "ohno-like" meant "bastard-like" and an "ohno-action" was equivalent to what a con-man/woman pulls on innocent victims, and if you "pull an ohno" it means you're a dirty, cheatin', SOB. Just in case you ohno fans wanted to know some of da feelins in Korea.
typical azn female
   Sunday, June 30, 2002 at 14:32:59 (PDT)
check out profile.php?Athlete=6133
to see Apolo - picture from 2002 it claims - hair chopped off...*sniff*
   Sunday, June 09, 2002 at 20:22:50 (PDT)
wait... wait... wait a second... what about the Asian Corean that didn't get that metal tho? i mean... its nice and all that ohno's an asian american that won a medal for the U.S... actually, that's great! but... maybe people should also take in the fact that ppl in corea view him... lets say... he's not really the apple of their eye. im not saying he's bad and u should all hate him... but there's also another side to the story. "Ohno must pit cunning, muscle and heart against better seasoned Corean and Chinese foes" just shows an example... lotsa pplz in corea view that "cunning" as cheating...
typical azn female
   Friday, May 31, 2002 at 20:10:20 (PDT)
I love Apolo. He's everything a guy should be, smart, strong, sensual. He is very gracious and I adore him for that. He's a great athlete and a great human being. He is an Olympic hero. He showed that if you have enough faith in yourself, anything's possible.I'm looking forward to seeing him in Torino in 2006.

P.S. I would also like to see that picture of his g/f if someone has it. Are they really serious?

Bella Sicilia    Wednesday, May 29, 2002 at 11:32:56 (PDT)
Hey Apolo fans, check out Apolo Ohno on Ebay - autographed pictures, videos of him on various shows, magazines with him on the cover, mousepads and keychains with his picture, all sorts of things - many at really low prices!!! Go to, then just enter Apolo's name in the search box!! Happy shopping!

Happy Clam
   Wednesday, May 22, 2002 at 06:43:02 (PDT)
Apolo is the next short track hero, but to me overall, its Derek Parra.
   Monday, May 13, 2002 at 20:13:45 (PDT)
Apolo Ohno was named one of the 50 most beautiful people by People Magazine. Very sexy pose. Check out the 5/13 issue. He's 5'8. His name is derived from the Greek. "Apo" means steering away from and "Lo" meaning look out here he comes, according to his father. He says he loves to shop for clothes, electronics and jewelry especially yellow gold.
most beautiful
   Friday, May 10, 2002 at 08:58:20 (PDT)
What's up with that last comment "...disqualified himself with his badboy image?" Well, no he has not. The Olympics are long gone and a little of the dust has settled, and now it's totally Apolo's time in the blazin' spotlight! You go rock!
Monica    Friday, May 10, 2002 at 07:21:36 (PDT)
what someone has a picture of his gf? that is crazy? but i am so proud of apolo and that bad boy image? come on we all know were all bad (some still r) when we were younger! but am a teenager so i cant really say anything... but if someone has a pic of his gf i wanna see it...
kat n.    Thursday, May 09, 2002 at 16:24:54 (PDT)