Eric Heiden

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Eric Arthur Heiden, M.D. (born June 14, 1958 in Madison, Wisconsin) is an American former long track speed skater and road cyclist who won all the men's speed skating races, and thus an unprecedented five individual gold medals, and set four Olympic records and one world record at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York, United States. He also delivered the Athlete's Oath at those same games.

Heiden is an icon[by whom?] in the speed skating community and, in particular, in Europe where the sport is highly regarded.[citation needed] His victories are significant as few speed skaters (and athletes in general) have won competitions in both sprint and long-distance events. Heiden is the only athlete in the history of speed skating to have won all five events in a single Olympic tournament and the only one to have won a gold medal in all events. He is considered by some to be the best overall speedskater (short and long distances) in the sport's history. Heiden ranked No. 46 in ESPN's SportsCentury 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century in 1999, the only speed skater to make the list; in 2000, a Dutch newspaper called him the greatest skater ever.[1]

His sister, Beth Heiden, is also an accomplished cyclist, speedskater and cross-country skier.

In Heiden's hometown of Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin (a suburb of Madison), Eric and his sister Beth were the driving forces behind the creation of the "Heiden Haus", a small outpost where local children can warm up after skating or playing hockey on the ice rink (complete with underground clay platform).


Skating career

During his short speed skating career, Heiden won three World Allround Championships and four World Sprint Championships. Three times he broke the world record in the 1,000 metres, twice in the 3,000 metres, and once each in the 1,500 metres and 10,000 metres. He also broke the points world record in both allround and the sprinting distances.

Heiden finished his speed skating career by finishing second behind Hilbert van der Duim at the 1980 World Allround Championships in Heerenveen. He stood at the top of the Adelskalender for an impressive 1,495 days, and won the Oscar Mathisen Award four times in a row from 1977 until 1980. As of 2006, he still is the only skater who has won the award four times.

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