This time all that mattered was the color of the medal, not the color of his skin.
With a furious kick on the final lap Wednesday, Shani Davis stuck his skate across the line and won his second straight gold medal in 1,000-meter Olympic speedskating.
Four years ago at Turin, he became the first African-American athlete to win an individual gold at the Winter Games. This time, he simply wanted to be known for his skating. Period.
"It's always nice to go out there and do it again," Davis said.
Special Report: 2010 Winter Olympics
Vancouver Daily Dispatch
Winter Olympics Medal Count
The Americans broke their medal drought at the Richmond Olympic Oval with a flourish, claiming not just one but two spots on the podium. Chad Hedrick, who won three medals at the 2006 games, claimed a surprising bronze.
Davis swung both arms twice on the final backstretch, knowing he needed a little more speed to catch South Korea's Mo Tae-bum. The American found just enough, posting a time of 1 minute, 8.94 seconds.
Mo, who won gold in the 500 two days ago, settled for silver this time, 18-hundreths behind Davis. Hedrick was third in 1:09.32.
Davis pumped his fist in the air and slapped hands with the U.S. coaches on the backstretch. Then, as he coasted around near the finish line, Hedrick skated over to shake his hand firmly and pat him on the back several times.
Four years ago, their accomplishments in Italy - Davis won a gold and silver; Hedrick a medal of each color - were overshadowed by a nasty feud stemming from the team pursuit.
Davis wanted to stick with his individual events, a decision that peeved Hedrick, who believed it cost the Americans a shot at a medal.
Their animosity boiled over at a news conference after the 1,500, in which Davis finished second and Hedrick third. Hedrick brought up the team pursuit, and Davis stormed out of the room complaining that Hedrick didn't congratulate him on his gold, only the silver.
No hard feelings this time.
The two stood together on the victory stand, each holding one end of an American flag.
"Everything that Shani and I had in 2006 is behind us now," Hedrick said. "We're here. We're proud to represent our country. We're proud to put a few more medals on the table of the Americans."
Mo held up two fingers, representing both his finish and his total haul from these games. South Korea extended its impressive showing with two golds and two silvers in the first five events.
"I could have done better," Mo said through a translator. "Shani had the greater technique in turning the corners."
Skating in the same pair with Mo, Hedrick nearly clipped a lane marker in the first turn and appeared to lose valuable time, but he's always been a strong finisher. Amazingly, he nearly caught the fading Korean at the line.
That turned out to be good enough for bronze.
Lee Kyou-hyuk, a 31-year-old from South Korea, skating in his fifth Olympics, again failed to make the medal podium. He was ninth in 1:09.92.
The Americans put all four skaters in the top 10 after being shut out of the medals through the first four events. Nick Pearson was seventh in 1:09.79, while Trevor Marsicano took 10th in 1:10.11.
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