March 18, 1964 |
Cornwall, New York
|Height||5 ft 5 in (165 cm)|
|Weight||130 lb (59 kg)|
Bonnie Kathleen Blair (born March 18, 1964) is a retired American speedskater. She is one of the top skaters of her era, and one of the most decorated athletes in Olympic history. Blair competed for the United States in four Olympics, winning five gold medals and one bronze medal.
Blair was born in Cornwall, New York to Charlie and Eleanor Blair. She was the youngest of six children and was raised in Champaign, Illinois. She attended Jefferson Middle School. After graduating from Centennial High School in Champaign, she moved to the Milwaukee area to train with the United States national speed skating team.
At the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Blair had her best start ever in the 500 meters, winning the gold medal in world record time of 39.10 seconds. She also won the bronze in the 1,000 meters.
Blair took advantage of a change of Olympic rules. In 1986, the International Olympic Committee voted to stage the Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics in alternating four year cycles. Thus, the next Winter Games would be held in February 1994 rather than in February 1996. The 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, were a coronation of sorts for Blair: She again won gold in the 500 meters (39.25) and 1,000 (1:18.74) meters races, in dominating fashion. Blair finished 0.36 seconds ahead of the second best time in the 500 meters, and her 1.38 second margin in the 1,000 meters race is the largest margin of victory in the history of the event. In the process she became the first American woman to win five gold medals. She also was the only American to have 6 medals at any Winter Olympics, a record that stood until Apolo Ohno tied it and then surpassed it at the 2010 Winter Olympics when he won a silver and two bronze medals in short track speed skating for eight career medals.
After the 1994 Olympics, Blair continued to compete. In March 1994, Blair set another world record in the 500 meters, becoming the first female to complete the race in under 39 seconds (38.99). On March 18, 1995, she retired. Blair won several prestigious awards, including the 1992 James E. Sullivan Award, the 1992 Oscar Mathisen Award (being the first female winner of this award), the 1992 ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year, and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, along with Johann Olav Koss, in 1994. She also was Female Athlete of the Year as selected by the Associated Press in 1994. Blair also won the World Cup points championship 11 times.
Blair also competed in short-track speed skating, becoming the Overall Short-track World Champion in 1986.
She is a member of the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2004, she was elected to the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. At the time of her induction, Blair was the most decorated United States Winter Olympian of all time with 5 gold and one bronze (she is currently third to Apolo Ohno who has 2 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze if equality of medals irrespective of colour is applied). She was awarded a star (#7) on The Flag for Hope on September 29, 2015 in recognition of her outstanding Speed Skating Career and philanthropic efforts. She is married to fellow Olympic speedskater Dave Cruikshank, with whom she has a son, Grant, and daughter, Blair.
Johann Olav Koss
|Oscar Mathisen Award
|Flo Hyman Memorial Award
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