Monday, January 25, 2010


I've started putting a quote up on the right side bar - hopefully our dear reader finds something useful or inspirational from time to time. I was updating the quote today, and thought a bit of backstory on the current quote would make a good post.

The quote comes from Italian speedskater Enrico Fabris, who won three medals at the 2006 Turin Olympics. The Canadian speed skating team, led by Cindy Klassen, was nothing short of exceptional during those games. But four years later, Frabris' CBC interview immediately after the men's 1500m is what sticks with me.

Fabris came into the Turin Games having just won the European Championships a month earlier. But while he had been on the podium at a few World Cups and the World Champs, he had never won gold on the international circuit. And he had never won an international medal of any colour in the 1500m.

At the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, he was 16th in the 5000m, and 26th in the 1500m.

Fabris opened the Turin games by claiming Italy's first ever Olympic speed skating medal (a bronze) in the 5000m. Five days later, he followed with a gold in the team pursuit, as the Italian men upset powerhouses Canada (silver) and Denmark (bronze).

But it was in the 1500m where the real magic happened. At best, Fabris was a longshot against American co-favourites Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick. But someone forgot to tell Fabris about the odds, or maybe he just ignored them.

Fabris skated in the third-last pairing, setting the fastest time: 1:45.97. He then waited as Hedrick and then Davis skated in the last two pairings. Hedrick, the Olympic 5000m Gold medallist, who prior to the Games had predicted he would win 5 gold medals in Turin, was ahead of Fabris through the early splits. At the line, he came up 0.25 seconds short in 1:46:22.

The crowd was electric; Fabris was guaranteed at least a bronze medal, but there was still hope for something more. The final pairing featured the Olympic 1000m Gold medallist and pre-race favourite Davis, who had decided not to race the team pursuit in order to be rested for the 1000m and 1500m.

Italian and US flags waiving, crowd screaming, clock ticking, Davis flew. Like Hedrick, Davis was ahead of Fabris through the opening splits. He simply eclipsed the other skater in the pairing. He was racing only against the clock, chasing his second gold. And when the clock stopped, Fabris had beaten Davis by 0.18 seconds.

The home crowd went crazy. Fabris was mobbed by his team, the stands were red, white and green, and the Italian commentators were so excited they knocked over the press box camera in their celebration. Pandemonium. Pure joy.

Somehow, a CBC reporter waded into the scrum and got a microphone in front of Fabris in those first moments after his win, and this is what he said:

"First of all, I believed in it. If you believe, you can train and work so hard to get your goal…..and I did it, and it’s wonderful!”

It's still one of my favourites.

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