By Shani Davis, Four-Time Olympic Medalist Long Track Speedskater | Oct. 26, 2017, 5:45 p.m. (ET)
Shani Davis competes in the men's 1,500-meter at the ISU World Single Distances Speedskating Championships at Gangneung Oval on Feb. 12, 2017 in Gangneung, South Korea.

 

Shani Davis is one of the most decorated athletes in the history of long track speedskating. He has won four Olympic medals – back-to-back golds in the 1,000-meter and back-to-back silvers in the 1,500 in 2006 and 2010 – in addition to 30 world championship medals. With more than 100 world cup medals to his name, he is also the all-time leader in world cup points. Follow Davis on his journey to a fifth Olympic Winter Games as he writes for TeamUSA.org.

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Processing Life As The Days Get Closer To My End Goals...

Journal – I haven't talked to you in a long time and I know there are people out there who care about me who only get the chance to know about me when I'm competing, but now, hopefully this new blog I'm doing will fill those gaps and you guys can know more about what I'm doing and follow me throughout the process.

For starters, after last season I was able to go back home to Chicago and I really enjoyed my time at home! But before anything I had to make sure my body was healthy and recovered from the season I just finished! Last season was better than the previous one, but I still had a long way to go in terms of finding my full potential and skating to my best abilities.

My mind tells me I can do it, my heart wants it – to be the best – and I push myself, but for some reason I don't get the same results I once did. This doesn't discourage me; I like a good fight, a challenge, and I have such an appreciation for what I have done in the sport of skating and making a name for myself.

When I was young, I would have never thought I would be what I am now: a legend, one that was unique to the world of skating in every aspect – that I caused many people sleepless nights trying to find the solution. People had to build teams and hire doctors and have the best of the best in everything to try and compete with me. I always wondered what if I had those same things: where people wanted to build me up instead of hold me back or destroy me, voluntary or not. I can only imagine, but who knows what the outcome would have been.

In the end, I'm happy with everything and I'm thankful for the hardships and challenges of not having everything handed to me. I think it made me stronger and more resilient so I could not only handle misfortune, but anything that came my way.

Sorry if this jumps around a lot, but I didn't want to make a cookie-cutter journal or blog, I wanted something real, so here it goes...

So back to talking about home, Chicago! It was great, not so much the weather (cold, cloudy and rainy), but just being able to lay in my own bed, see friends that I grew up with, catch up with family, and – one of my most favorite parts – eat Chicago cuisine! My metabolism isn't what it used to be, but since I have this master plan of being 'the man' or 'that dude,' I enjoyed it! If it was fried chicken, pizza or combination sandwiches of Italian beef and Italian sausage, I devoured it! And the taste was amazing because after being away all season (normally 6 to 7 months) I had that huge withdrawal and when I returned that is what I craved the most – oh yeah, and sleep!

I caught up on all current events that I like: American sports like basketball and of course soccer (I admit the Europeans rubbed off on me a bit). It was also nice to shut my mind off and not have to worry about being fit and skate-ready, etc.

No worries for a few weeks, then reality hits and I feel guilty; that is like my wake-up call in my body telling me, you got to do something, can't lose everything you built up. So then I became active, but it's hard when you go to sleep and see gray and darkness and you wake up and see the same thing, and it is supposed to be spring but it is super cold; but it is my home and I love it. I look forward to the day I don't have to report to training in early spring and summer and I can stay home for summer and enjoy Chicago to the fullest! The last time I was home for summer in Chicago was when I was 15 or something like that! I've been deprived, but as titled above...on to my end goals...

My body was healthy (the doctor told me), and I also did some exercises to help with some of my weaknesses. Everything the trainer told me sounded like it could really help me with preventing knee injuries (something I deal with all the time) and things of that nature, so I did what he told me, and hopefully I can continue it, but it is always a challenge when you have super hard training and then you need to do these tedious, extra trainings. After training hours all day, I want to go home and rest, cook dinner, eat something, recover and sleep because tomorrow it starts again; it is not like a video game with a pause button. A certain discipline is required, not just being strong and pushing through everything. So I'm trying to refine that part of myself, but at this point in my career, what do I have to lose?

Seeing my buddies was great, too – so many stories and good times to share, but it is also so refreshing to spend time with people who love and accept me for who I was before all the glamor and stuff. I feel this time in Chicago I did almost everything, and I even did some training so that when it was time to go back to training for the season I wouldn't be too far behind...

One of the things I missed the most – it is kind of a love-hate relationship – is this game I play. It is super time-consuming and I have to cut myself off sometimes so I don't sit around for hours playing. I guess I owe you guys a story, so I will tell you. The game is called “World of Warcraft,” and I've been playing on and off for over 10 years. There are some hardcore players and some casual players; I think I am casual but my mentality is dangerous because I would devote myself almost the same way I jump into training and skating, and since the season was over, I needed something besides therapy and stuff to put my mind into.

So “World of Warcraft” it was, and it was also great because there are super rare items to obtain and let's just say I got some of those items such as Time-Lost Proto-Drake!! This is a dragon mount and he (or maybe she, playing hard to get), let's say she, has a crazy timer for making an in-game appearance. Maybe like every 4-8 hours there is a possibility of getting her, but of course there are other players who want her so it goes to the first person who can successfully land a killing blow on her without dying trying to get her. Let's just say after camping and setting alarms to wake up and checking one of the four possible places she could appear, taking notes, and competing and fighting against an alliance (go horde!), I finally got her!! Oh and I forgot she also shares a similar rare of Vyragosa, so you never know which will appear. You know what, if you guys care, go to YouTube and see the struggle!

I guess I tried on and off for about 2 years or so, but I spent 3 weeks letting my life revolve around some pixels on a computer screen. Don't judge me!! I think a sport psychologist would call it redirecting, but I call it nerdy. When I finally got this Time-Lost (hence the name), I was very happy, almost as happy as winning a race that I've trained hard for, but hey, don't judge, don't hate! :P (Is it bad that I was shaking, too, since it was like for every 20 or more Vyragosa, there would be one Time-Lost Proto-Drake?)

I then headed back over to Korea for summer training. I was home for a good bit but was super motivated and recharged to get super strong, my master plan. The 14-hour flight provided me with lots of time to reflect and think about my next moves.

I know this is an Olympic season and this will be my fifth Games if things go accordingly. But we will see, I'm not one to count my chickens before they hatch, or however the saying goes. I feel ready and I'm going to give it my all. I let go of all the stuff from the past that weighed on me in negative ways mentally or physically draining me. I'm a cell phone with 100-percent battery life, and I might not be the newest iPhone or Samsung, but I can get the job done!

There will be more to come – honesty blogs so people can know not only Shani the skater, and insert here whatever accomplishment, but Shani the human being that was addicted to “World of Warcraft,” hanging out with my day ones, going out and enjoying life, everything! Enjoy and until next time!!

Peace and love always,

Shani