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March 18, 1964 |
Cornwall, New York
Bonnie Kathleen Blair (born March 18, 1964 in Cornwall, New York) is a retired American speedskater. She is one of the top skaters of her time, and one of the most decorated athletes in Olympic history. Blair competed for the United States in four Olympics, and in her Olympic career won five gold medals and one bronze medal.
Blair was raised in Champaign, Illinois. She attended Jefferson Middle School. After graduation from Centennial High School in Champaign, she moved to the Milwaukee area to train with the United States national speed skating team.
1984–1992 Olympics 
Blair appeared at her first Olympic games in Sarajevo in 1984. She failed to medal but finished eighth in the 500 meters. At the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Blair won gold in the 500 meters and bronze in the 1000 meters. In the 500 meters race, Blair set a world record by completing the event in 39.10 seconds. She won both the 500 and 1000 meters (1:21.90) again at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.
1994 Olympics 
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 1000 (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 1000 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, which record 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.
Outside the Olympics 
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 tried track cycle racing, and was coached by former speed skater and cycling world champion Connie Paraskevin.
Blair also competed in short-track speed skating, becoming the Overall Short-track World Champion in 1986.
Recognition, personal life 
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 second to Apolo Ohno who has 2 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze if equality of medals irrespective of colour is applied). She is married to fellow Olympic speedskater Dave Cruikshank, with whom she has a son, Grant, and daughter, Blair.
See also 
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