Bonnie Blair has earned a special place in the pantheon of American Olympic sport. For many years, she was the most decorated winter athlete in her country with six medals, including five gold won in three Games, and remains to this day the only one to win the same event three times: the 500m.
Yet, when asked about her favourite memories, she evokes the Sarajevo Games in 1984, her earliest Olympic appearance at the age of 19, and where she had seen her only result in 8th place in the 500m, as a real victory.
“It was kind of being like that kid in a candy store. You don’t believe you are here, this is unbelievable, just total excitement and thrill with every aspects that went with the Games from the Opening Ceremony, walking in, to the crowd. I was able to pick out my mom and my two sisters who were in the crowd. And that just brought tears to my eyes. It’s just so overwhelming to think ‘OK, the whole world is watching this!”
On February 10, 1984 in Sarajevo, the young Bonnie finishes with a time of 42.53 which earned her 8th place in the 500m at the Zetra ice ring at an event marked by East Germany’s gold and silver medals with Christa Luding (41.02 ) and Karin Enke (41.28). “If you had seen me cross the finish line, you probably would have thought I had won, because I was so excited with this result that I had that it was way above my expectations!”