VANCOUVER (BP)–U.S. speedskater Chad Hedrick finished sixth in the men’s 1500 meters Feb. 20 in the last individual race in his speedskating career.
Hedrick still has the team pursuit event Feb. 26-27 but has announced he is retiring from speedskating after Vancouver.
“I think you can watch on video and know that my race looked a lot different than it did in the 1000 meter,” Hedrick said of his 1000 meter bronze medal performance. “I am so shocked that I did better in the 1000 meter than in the 1500 because I don’t even practice it, and that’s what’s tough for me to swallow right here.”
Hedrick’s mission in Vancouver was to show the world that he is a different person than he was in 2006, when he won three medals. Once considered to be the “Paris Hilton of speedskating” for his active nightlife, Hedrick has since married and had a daughter; in recent months he also had become a Christian and was baptized. On the top of his skating blade he has written the letters “CGIM,” which stands for “See God in me,” as a reminder to himself that the world is watching.
“This race doesn’t define me,” Hedrick said after the 1500 meters, a race which he considered his best event. Now, with his life rooted in Christ, “I am much bigger than this race today,” he said.
In other weekend results from the Olympics, U.S. bobsled pilot John Napier and his brakeman Steven Langton finished in 10th place in the two-man competition. Napier also is a relatively new Christian and was baptized last year by pastor Derek Spain at Lake Placid Baptist Church in Lake Placid, N.Y.
“I’m ecstatic about the finish of the race and how everything went,” Napier said. “I’ve had more fun here than I’ve ever had in my life. We raced well, we pushed well. I made a bunch of mistakes driving, but hopefully we can use it all as practice, and hopefully the Lord gives me the skills and form to pull together some successful runs and maybe get a medal for the guys [in the Feb. 26-27 four-man event].”
British skeleton racer Adam Pengilly, who attends an independent Baptist church in his homeland, finished in 18th place in his event. Pengilly acknowledged before the Winter Games that this season had been the most difficult of his career, plagued by a knee injury and complications in recovering from that injury. But his intention is to continue competing in the sport, because that’s the path he believes the Lord has set before him.
Tim Ellsworth, director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., is covering the 2010 Olympics for Baptist Press. For additional BP stories from the Winter Olympics, go to http://www.bpnews.net/BPCollectionNews.asp?ID=166. For Tim Ellsworth’s Olympics blog, go to http://www.bpnews.net/blog/.