By Todd Kortemeier | Nov. 07, 2018, 3:50 p.m. (ET)
J.R. Celski skates at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 13, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.

 

In announcing his retirement from short track speedskating at the age of 28, three-time Olympic medalist J.R. Celski mostly sounded thankful.

“To all that believed in me from the beginning, from the bottom of my heart, thank you,” Celski wrote in a post on his website. “I cannot express the gratitude I have for you in words. You are the very reason why I was able to make something of myself.”

After all, just a few months before his Olympic debut in 2010, Celski suffered a nasty bone-deep gash to his leg at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials that threatened his entire career. But not only did Celski go on to compete at those Games in Vancouver, he won two bronze medals. He added a silver medal in 2014, then competed last February in PyeongChang.

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A native of Federal Way, Washington, Celski was on skates by the age of 3. He idolized U.S. short track legend Apolo Ohno, who grew up skating at the same rink as Celski. Among five world records he set in his career, Celski became the first person to break the 40-second barrier in the 500-meter in 2012. Celski held the record until 2018.

Celski closed his retirement message with some advice for the next generation of skaters: “Keep it fun and light, work harder than you thought you could, and learn how to sharpen your own damn blades.”

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.