Witty: Gold Olympic Speed Skater
Witty’s favorite saying, reflecting her legendarily laid-back
attitude, served her well in winning the gold medal in the 1,000
meter speed-skating event at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics
Yes, in order to win her third Olympic medal—she has also won
a silver and a bronze in the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan—Witty
had to overcome a lot. Mainly mononucleosis, a disease she did
not even find out she had until a month before her big skate.
“All I knew was I was tired all the time,” she said. “And so were
my times in practice. I was actually relieved to find out something
was really wrong with me. I was going to cry, but then I said
to myself ‘that’s stupid. You just have to push your way through
this like you’ve done with everything else.’”
Witty has already proven she can push herself to miracles. Besides
being the most decorated woman speed-skater in the U.S., the 31
year old from West Allis, Wisconsin has also competed in the Sydney
Summer Olympics in cycling – finishing fifth in the 500-meter
time trial – an almost unbelievable exacta.
it’s no big deal,” Witty said. “The workouts for both sports are
almost the same.”
In spite of her easy going nature, Witty can stand as the poster
child of the possibility of getting to the top in a “different
way.” She sports a tattoo of the Notre Dame leprechaun on her
left hip. She loves to wolf down pizza and ice cream, giving the
U.S. team leaders constant conniptions. She also has a pierced
navel, plays grunge rock on her electric base guitar, and admits
to an unquenchable desire to own a Harley-Davidson bike. “Maybe
when I retire,” said Witty. “You can break a leg on one of those,
In spite of it all, Witty claims she only gained her rebellious
rep due to the inevitable comparisons to America’s previous speed-skating
great, Bonnie Blair. “She was the girl next door,” said Witty.
“I’m from the next garage.”
Straight-laced or pierced to distraction, “this is a great time
for girls and women in sports,” said Witty. “Girls don’t have
to be cheerleaders any longer in order to participate. They can
reach the greatest heights with commitment and work.” #
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: email@example.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of
the publisher. © 2001.