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Former Olympian Tommy O'Hare's twists and turns to success

"For me, skating was always going to be a chapter, not the book," O'Hare explained.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The legacy of the Gateway Speedskating Club is to not just give something to skaters but to leave something in skaters.

"I think it comes down to people really volunteering their time and caring about the sport and caring about the athletes and seeing them develop, not only to be successful on the ice but also being successful in life," said Tommy O'Hare.

O'Hare is another one of their star pupils who first hit the ice just to keep up with his older sister.

"I believe I was fifth grade and my brother was fourth grade and it sure was a lot of fun to race each other," recalled Kelly Britt, O'Hare's sister.

A few years after that, the short track speedskater was racing against the best in the world. He became a four-time World Championship Team member and then recalled the feeling when he represented the United States in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

"I can't believe that I get to be a part of this thing," O'Hare remembered thinking. "And so for me that was kind of the moment where like it all really came together."

But things got a little frigid when the 2002 Olympics rolled around.

O'Hare filed a complaint with U.S. Speedskating claiming some fellow skaters, including gold medalist Apolo Ohno, conspired against him at the trials to help Shani Davis qualify for the team.

Despite what Time magazine called "some damning evidence," an arbitrator exonerated Ohno.

"I feel a little bit betrayed," O'Hare told us in 2002. "And I look and there are some things I could do differently and would do differently if I wanted to use all my energy to win an Olympic medal."

"For me, I was like I need to put that behind me and I need to focus on the future," said O'Hare looking back, "and for me skating was always going to be a chapter, not the book."

Credit: Family photo

The chapters since then are filled with success. From getting a law degree at Saint Louis University, to working for the U.S. Olympic Committee and later the International Olympic Committee. He's now a successful media executive in the San Francisco Bay area with his wife and three kids.

His family couldn't be more proud looking forward and back.

"People forget in the quest for medals that just being there is a major accomplishment," said Britt.

As for all the young kids at the Gateway Speedskating Club hoping to be the next Tommy O'Hare, there is this advice.

"It's not necessarily about the end result, about making it to the Olympics," he said. "It's about what you learn in the process, and what it teaches you and I think if you take that you'll probably end up being successful."

    

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