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Apolo Anton Ohno, born on May 22, 1982, is an American short track speed skating competitor and a five-time medalist (2 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze) in the Winter Olympics. He also competed in and won the 2007 season of reality TV show Dancing with the Stars.
Ohno has won five Olympic medals over his career, and is one of only four Americans who has won three medals in a single Winter Olympics game. He has been the reigning U.S. short track speed skating champion since 2001, and has won the U.S. men's title a total of nine times. In 2008, Ohno won his first World Championship overall title.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, Apolo Anton Ohno emerged as a popular athlete among USA fans for reportedly charming them with his cheerful attitude and laid-back style. He became the face of short track speed skating in the US, which was a relatively new and unknown sport at the time, and carried the medal hopes of America in that sport. Ohno medaled in two events, although there was some controversy associated with the results.
In the 1000 m race, Ohno was leading the pack, however during a turn around the final corner, fellow skater Ahn Hyun Soo fell and slid across the ice, taking himself, Ohno, Mathieu Turcotte and Li Jiajun into the barriers. The single man standing was Steven Bradbury from Australia, who was trailing behind at the time, and skated through to win the gold medal, becoming the first person from the southern hemisphere to win a gold medal at a Winter Olympics. Ohno quickly got to his feet and crossed the finish line to win silver.
In the 1500 m race, Ohno won the gold medal, with a time of 2:18.541. During the 1500 m final race, South Korean Kim Dong-Sung was first across the finish line, but was disqualified for blocking Ohno, in what is called cross tracking.[Ohno was in second place with three laps remaining, and on his third attempt to pass on the final lap, Kim drifted slightly to the inside where Ohno raised his arms and came out of his crouch to signal that he was blocked.
Fourth-place finisher of the same race, Fabio Carta of Italy, showed his disagreement with the decision saying that it was "absurd that the Korean was disqualified." China's Jiajun Li, who moved from bronze to silver, remained neutral saying: "I respect the decision of the referee, I'm not going to say any more."
Steven Bradbury of Australia, the 1000 m gold medal winner, also shared his views: "Whether Dong-Sung moved across enough to be called for cross-tracking, I don't know, he obviously moved across a bit. It's the judge's interpretation. A lot of people will say it was right and a lot of people will say it's wrong. I've seen moves like that before that were not called. But I've seen them called too." The disqualification upset South Korean supporters, many of whom directed their anger at Ohno and the Olympic International Olympic Committee.
On February 20, 2007, the ABC television network announced that Ohno would dance on the fourth season of the Dancing with the Stars reality show. He was paired with dancing partner Julianne Hough, and both appeared on the show for the first time on March 19, 2007. Ohno and Hough received the first perfect score of 30 of the competition for their samba on April 16, 2007.
Upon reaching the final round, alongside Laila Ali and Joey Fatone, Ohno and Hough performed a newly-choroegraphed rumba, a breakdancing/hip hop-esque freestyle dance, and their Paso Doble routine from earlier in the season, gaining a total score of 88 out of 90, the top spot on the judges' scoreboard. At the finale, falling on Ohno's twenty-fifth birthday, the pair received a perfect 30 on their reprise of their Paso Doble, and Ohno and Hough were named the winners of Dancing With the Stars Season 4.
On April 26, 2007, Apolo Anton Ohno was inducted into the Asian Hall of Fame, an award given to "Asian Americans who have contributed to their heritage by breaking new ground or achieving excellence in their fields at both a national and international level.