Blogtober Day 17: Dan Jansen

Dan Jansen's story is kind of the greatest. So, if you didn't know about him before right now, you. are. welcome.

Dan set eight speed skating world records during his career and competed marginally well at the 1984 Olympics, but pretty much everything is irrelevant until 1988. He became the World Sprint Champion and was the favorite to win gold in the 500m and 1,000m at the Olympics. But on the day of the 500m event, he got word that his sister Jane had died of leukemia. He decided to compete anyway, but fell on the first turn. Several days later, he competed in the 1,000m and fell about three quarters of the way through.

At the 1992 Olympics, Dan finished fourth and twenty-sixth in his two events. In 1993, he set a world record in the 500m and became World Sprint Champion again, and entered the 1994 Olympics as gold medal favorite. He finished eighth in the 500m but, defying all expectations, won the gold medal in the 1,000m, setting a new world record in the process. He dedicated his medal to his sister, and then took a lap with his one-year-old daughter, Jane. Oh god, it gets me every time. *sniffle*

The other American athletes voted that Dan carry the flag in the closing ceremony and he received the James E. Sullivan award for his athletic accomplishments and "strong moral character." Lol, well yes, this is appropriate.

Dan is one of THE American Olympians. Jesse Owens, Kerri Strug, Mike Eruzione, Dan Jansen, etc. He's one of those athletes that embodies everything the Olympics are about; the struggle, the failure, and the triumph over adversity. His performance transcends sports and becomes much more about the power of the human spirit than winning a medal.

Bet you weren't expecting me to get all deep on ya, huh? But here, let him tell you about it. Or take Morgan Freeman's word for it.

Like I said, you. are. welcome.

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