Vancouver Olympics

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Thomas Kienzle/AP
Dan Jansen reacts after winning the gold medal in the men's 1,000 meters, Feb. 18, 1994.

No. 3: Dan Jansen Finally Wins Gold

Dan Jansen was a heavy favorite to win gold in the 500- and 1,000-meter speed skating races at the 1988 Games in Calgary. The morning before his first race, the 500-meters, Jansen learned that his sister had died of leukemia. Dedicating the race to her, Jansen crashed on the first turn, just eight seconds into the race. Four days later, he crashed late in the 1,000-meter race that he appeared to be winning.

Jansen finished out of medal contention at the 1992 Games and in the 500-meters at the 1994 Lillehamer Games. He was not expected to do well in the 1,000-meters, the final race of his Olympic career, but he shocked everybody by setting a new world record and winning the gold that had eluded him for six years.

“Dan Jansen's chosen field is merely speed skating, not finding a cure for cancer or AIDS, but in his own way, Dan Jansen showed Americans and everybody else how to keep going, that you can be persistent without growing bitter,” wrote George Vecsey in The New York Times.

Watch Jansen win gold.

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