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Derek Parra: 1970—: Athlete Biography

Raced For Food, Trained On World's Fastest Ice, Landmark Win—both National And Personal

Derek Parra: 1970—: Athlete.

When Derek Parra set a new world record in the men's 1,500-meter speedskating competition at the 2002 Winter Olympics, he also became the first Mexican-American to win a gold medal at the Salt Lake City Games. Parra was an unlikely victor in the sport of long-track speedskating, having tried it for the first time just six years before. The Southern California native became a favorite subject for sports writers at the Salt Lake Games, who found the story of his rise from the barrio appealing. Parra himself was pleased with his success. "If I can challenge any kid—doesn't matter if they're Mexican or Asian or black or white—to challenge themselves and reach for their dreams," the 31-year-old told San Bernardino Sun reporter Paul Oberjuerge, "that's more important than anything else."

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