Chad Hedrick gained a lifetime’s price of Olympic pace skating medals 15 years in the past on the Turino Winter Games, claiming one gold, one silver and one bronze. No one actually knew how disillusioned Hedrick felt, nor how empty his life was, as he left Italy to return house. Not even Hedrick himself.
Hedrick says it is a feeling that prime athletes get, whether or not it is an Olympic gold medal, a Super Bowl championship, a world report or anybody who reaches the highest of their craft. It’s a sense of each vacancy and loneliness. It’s a dejection of friendships and generally not understanding how one can be a greater father or mom, or perhaps a higher daughter or son.
It’s one thing he not often talks about when recounting his prowess as an athlete who ultimately glided into the National Speed Skating Hall of Fame. He gained 5 Olympic medals in pace skating, limitless medals at inline skating and youth curler skating championships from the time he may stroll.
He regrets the trail it took him on, however he would not remorse the place it is gotten him to at the present time. He’s a greater household man, a greater father and a greater particular person as a result of his pursuit of excellence in sports activities made him neglect all of these duties beforehand. And he is the primary to confess it.
The Texan entered the 2006 Winter Olympics with the very best of expectations, maybe probably in a position to match a feat of successful 5 pace skating gold medals at one Games—one thing just one different American achieved when Eric Heiden did it on the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics.
Hedrick gained only one gold medal in 2006, which was Team USA’s first gold medal of any sport in Turino, when he took first place within the 5,000 meter-race. He wasn’t teary-eyed or overjoyed as he stood on the medal podium, he remembers. Then, he positioned third within the 1,500 meters and second within the 10,000 meters.
“I wasn’t real satisfied because I was looking through a different lens,” Hedrick mentioned. “I didn’t understand that silver and bronze in the whole world was a great accomplishment.”
It wasn’t in his DNA to lose. It by no means crossed his thoughts, as a result of he by no means misplaced races from the time he first strapped on curler skates on the household curler rink in Houston not lengthy after he realized to stroll. He went from curler skates to inline skating, the place he gained 52 world championships and greater than 90 nationwide titles, turning into the most-decorated inline skater in historical past earlier than switching to hurry skating.
Ever since he gained his first curler skating nationwide championship at age 8, he needed to be the quickest skater on the planet. It was engrained in him that ending second place was merely the “first loser.”
Fifteen years after he gained gold within the 5,000-meter race at these Olympics in Italy, Hedrick displays on miscues in his life from again then. There was a scarcity of friendships, a scarcity of religion and a scarcity of trying past what he had simply completed.
“It didn’t feel as good as I thought it was,” Hedrick lately informed Newsweek. “As a man, I was defined on how fast I could go on speed skates. With that, there were a lot of things I did, a lot of manipulation around me. There was a lack of building great relationships around me.
“I used to be the quickest one who placed on skates day-after-day for 30 years. If I did not win, then one thing was flawed. It was a really loopy second for me to comprehend. This second would not really feel pretty much as good as I believed it could.”
Photos from the 2006 Turino Olympics present Hedrick smiling whereas he donned his medals, however the 2021 Hedrick admits the vacancy inside him felt like an avalanche had already swept away any feelings or soul that ought to have been there.
“I was a monster, man,” Hedrick mentioned. “I wanted to win that gold medal so bad. I used a lot of people for my personal gain. There was not a lot I was proud of. Within a year or two that experience helped me to become a more grounded person.”
Hedrick mentioned top-level athletes and profitable individuals can usually really feel a way of vacancy, regardless of how nice issues seem from the surface trying in.
“I think a lot of people watch top-level athletes of any sport, and I think—not just athletes, CEOs or whoever is the best in their field—people look at them and think that things are just great,” Hedrick mentioned. “Sometimes these people that are great at what they do, and are idolized by people or respected by certain groups. But they have a lot of struggles you wouldn’t think they had.
“There’s a variety of tales behind the gold medal, Lombardi Trophy and Nobel prize, and never all of it’s peaches and cream.”
Hedrick said the experience taught him a lot, and that it made him become a better dad, husband, son and friend.
“There’s a double-edge sword to be able to be one of the best on the planet at something it’s a must to have extra aggressive spirit. There’s a really, very superb line as a result of that satisfaction can take over your life for those who let it.”
Hedrick took a year off after Turino, and then tried working his way back onto Team USA for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The year off hindered his training, and then he had hip surgery just before Vancouver.
“I went down within the dumps and needed to claw again to a excessive stage. Coming again will not be a straightforward factor,” Hedrick said. “It was a difficult, difficult time. I used to be in a position to get a silver and a bronze in several occasions I hadn’t centered on earlier than.”
He won a silver medal in the team pursuit at Vancouver and a bronze in the 1,000 meters. Hedrick retired from speed skating after the 2010 Winter Olympics, and he found what left the void within him. He became a man of faith.
“I grew to become nearer to God,” Hedrick said. “I noticed there was gonna be no success. If I may accomplish the purpose of a lifetime, and my soul was empty, then what’s going to fulfill me? I got here to the belief there’s nothing I can do. Lots of humility got here out.”
Having a career deadset on being the fastest skater in the world left Hedrick little direction for a career after sports. He completely walked away from skating, which meant no coaching or opening schools. It meant dabbling in the Houston-area oil and gas industry, and eventually real estate, which he does to this day in his business Gold to Sold Group.
He now hopes to stand back on the podium as the best in his field, and he said all the lessons learned in athletics could help push him to the top.
“I take advantage of all of the issues I realized in sports activities to perform my targets one after the other,” Hedrick said. “I’m simply attempting to get again on that podium of being one of the best.”
A lifetime of reaching gold medals has led Hedrick to a golden period in his personal life. He’s discovered religion and a household basis. He’s discovered one thing via his Olympic journey that is not well-chronicled.
He’s discovered happiness.