Apolo Anton Ohno Interview

May 7, 2010
Outside Magazine

 Apolo Anton Ohno was the star of the Vancouver Olympics this winter, both as an athlete and as a media presence. At 27, he bagged a grand total of eight Olympic medals, putting him at the top of the list of the most accomplished American Winter Olympians. The 2010 Games were not without drama--Ohno was disqualified from the 500 meters--but Ohno clearly came out the victor. Outside Online caught up with the speed-skater at the top of his game.

--Aileen Torres

You've now got eight Olympic medals under your belt, even after disqualification from the 500 meters. How does it feel? Any pressure now that you're the most decorated Winter Olympian in American history?
Going into the Vancouver Games I never set my eyes on "breaking some record." Obviously, I wanted to win races and compete to my full potential, but I’ve never been one to focus on the outcome. For me, the process is much more important and meaningful. Looking back at it now, being able to win an additional three medals at another Olympic Games was an absolutely incredible experience for me. I enjoyed every single minute of the Games and tried to share it with everyone who was with me and supporting me. There is a sense of duty, responsibility, and honor when you are representing your country in the largest sporting event in the world--extremely memorable!

Do I feel any pressure as the most decorated Winter Olympian in American history? None at all. The only pressures that I know I face are those of how to pay it forward: How can I continually make a positive impact in people’s lives, help others achieve their dreams, create their own Olympic mindset, creating champions within themselves?

What did you think of your Vancouver experience, both in the Games and during your "off-time"?
I enjoyed it immensely. My friends, family, coaches, and others were around me 24/7. We all ate, slept, breathed the Olympic experience together, and it was an incredible experience. And I wanted to share my experience with as many fans as possible, which is why I was so active on Twitter, taking part in random Q&A’s, answering questions like what color bandana I like the best and how do I mentally prepare for each race.

Vancouver is an amazing city and luckily, growing up in the Seattle area, I was able to immerse myself into the culture at a young age, traveling back and forth across the border for skating competitions as a youngster. The love that the local Canadians gave me was amazing. I had a blast--and actually can’t wait to go back for a mini-vacation!

Do you plan to compete in the next Winter Olympics?
I’m not committing either way. I know that there are many ventures and campaigns that I am passionate about and finally have free time to fully dedicate myself to. Nutrition, health, and fitness are all a part of my life, and it’s time for me to share that passion with other people!

What have you been up to post-Games?
I have been going non-stop since Vancouver, and the receptions I have been receiving at each event and city have been overwhelming. I certainly love training and competing, but right now I am excited to be pursuing a lot of my off-ice initiatives. I have read for a film, met with various TV producers for potential host and acting opportunities, participated in multiple motivational speaking and charitable events, and traveled the country for The Century Council to speak with middle-school students to promote active and healthy lifestyles and [encourage them] to say no to underage drinking.
Like I said, I’ve been on the go since Vancouver and have had more time to pursue my entrepreneurial interests through the nutritional supplement company I launched, called 8Zone. It is a product designed to help people achieve their fitness needs, whether it's weight loss, more energy, focus, or an overall healthy and active lifestyle. I’ve got a great team behind me--doctors, strength coaches, nutritionists, and bio-chemists--and we are passionate about helping people enhance their quality of life through nutrition and fitness.

What's your training regime like?
Heading into Vancouver it was very intense! My strength and conditioning coach John Schaeffer lived with me for months and months leading up to the Olympics. We’d spend 8-12 hours a day on physical training and that does not include mental training, rehab, and recovery work that I did as well. It was that commitment to achieving success, two to four workouts a day and an extremely strict diet, that allowed me to drop 20 lbs--from 160 lbs to 140 lbs--while increasing my strength 40 percent.

What's your diet/nutrition regime when you're training and competing?
I am a believer in nutrient timing and supplementation, through 8Zone. I love eggs, apples, wild fish, leafy greens, brown rice, pasta, oatmeal, home grown Washington Potatoes, and cooking with coconut and olive oils.

When you're not speed skating, what do you like to do?
I love to work out and really enjoy the outdoors. I like to immerse myself with sport-related activities and spending quality time with people. I find people to be very inspiring, and I get a lot of motivation from listening and interacting with them, sharing stories and similarities--and differences--in our lives, and learning from each other.

I know you're very attached to your soul-patch. We at Outside have tried to come up with a new look for you here. Which one do you like the most?
Ha ha ha! I don’t even know how to answer this question. Hilarious.

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