Bonnie Blair is an Olympic gold medalist and celebrated speedskater. Success under pressure is the measure of a true champion. There are numerous winners in the world of sports, but the celebrated athletes are the few who meet the challenge of pressure time after time. Bonnie Blair is undoubtedly celebrated as the speedskater who produces her best performances when it counts the most.
The youngest of six children, Bonnie started skating at age 2 in Champaign, Illinois. Her race began in the 500 meter event of the 1988 Calgary Olympics immediately after her rival Christa Rothenburger of East Germany set a world record. Not to be outdone, Bonnie proceeded to skate the 500 meters faster than any woman had before, capturing the gold medal in a world record time of 39.1. This record stood for 5 years, when at the age of 30, Blair met her ultimate goal of shattering the 39 second mark with a time of 38.99.
At the 1992 Albertville Olympics, with the world watching and a nation counting on her, Blair came through again. She blew away the field in the 500 meters, defeating her nearest competitor, Ye Qiaobo of China, by 18/100 of a second. The victory made Blair the first woman in Olympic history to win consecutive gold medals in the event, and the first American woman to win consecutive Winter Olympic gold medals. She made history again in the 1,000 meters, edging out Ye by just 2/100 of a second to win her second gold of the Games, and her fourth Olympic medal overall.
In 1994, Blair skated in her final Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. Supported by 60 plus members of "The Blair Bunch," Bonnie once again swept the sprint races winning gold medals in both the 500 and 1,000 meter events. By capturing her sixth career Olympic medal, Bonnie emerged as U.S. history's most decorated Winter athlete, as well as the record holder for the most gold medals (5) won by an American woman in any sport.
Bonnie is currently the world record holder in the 500 meters, the reigning world cup champion, and the U.S. National sprint champion. After being nominated for the award in 1987, 1990, 1992, 1993, and 1994, Blair was voted the 1994 Women's Sports Foundation Individual Sportswoman of the Year. Blair also won the Babe Zharias Female Amateur Athlete of the Year award in 1994. She was also named the 1994 female Athlete of the Year by U.S. Speedskating and the U.S. Olympic Committee.