Maybe you’ve seen the kids at the shopping center, raising money to go to a national tournament, or to sports camp. Maybe they washed your car, or sold you some doughnuts. In Champaign, Illinois, a young speed skater named Bonnie Blair wanted to compete in Europe, but lacked the funds to make the trip. So the local police department took the initiative to hold raffles and bake sales — and the money was raised.
Bonnie Blair definitely made the Champaign police department proud. The year following her trip, she won the U.S. indoor speed skating championship. She won again the next year, and competed in her first Winter Olympics. She didn’t win a medal, but her time was coming. In 1988 in Calgary, she won a gold and a bronze. Next in Albertville in 1992, two more golds. Then in Lillehammer in 1994, two more golds. Apollo Ohno has now won more total Winter Olympics medals, but Blair still has earned the most golds.
For her accomplishments, Blair was named winner of the Sullivan Award in 1992, given to the outstanding American amateur athlete. And in 1994, she was co-winner of Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, and the Associated Press chose her as Female Athlete of the Year. But winning has always had a different meaning for her. “Winning doesn’t always mean being first,” she said. “Winning means you’re doing better than you’ve ever done before.”