Jennifer Rodriguez: 1976—: Olympic Speed Skater
Salt Lake City Olympics
At the Salt Lake City Olympics, Rodriguez came in seventh in the 3,000 meters and won a bronze in the 1,000 meters even though she slipped in the final turn. In the 1,500 meters she won another bronze medal, though she did become tired in the last lap. The race was difficult because of the high altitude and because the ice was somewhat mushy and slow. Rodriguez told Sports Illustrated For Kids that she is strongest at the beginning of a race: "I'm real aggressive. A lot of times, I get really tired at the end because I give too much in the beginning. My legs are like rocks."
Happy with her Olympic performance, Rodriguez told Houston Chronicle's Justice, "I wanted a medal. I didn't care what color it was." She admitted, "I don't think I've ever been more nervous before a race than I was today." The skater added, "Four years ago, I never thought this was possible. Now I can relax and go snowboarding or hit the slopes."
With her two bronze medals, Rodriguez became the first Hispanic to win two Winter Olympic medals. Although Rodriguez qualified to skate in the 5,000-meter race, she opted out of it. The race is long and grueling and is her weakest event. Had she competed in that race, she would have been the only woman at the Games to compete in four events, as she was in 1998 at Nagano. Rodriguez said she hoped to skate for another four years, and plans to compete in the 2006 Olympics in Italy, but added that she would take things one day at a time.
Rodriguez commented on the unusual phenomenon of a Hispanic woman from a warm climate excelling in a winter sport, telling Robertson, "Being Cuban, that's icing on the cake. It's even stranger being from Miami. It shows that the United States is all about diversity. We're the biggest melting pot in the world and we have athletes of all different nationalities."
On April 13, 2002, Rodriguez married Boutiette in Miami Beach. She told Justice, "I couldn't ask for anything better than to have my best friend on the ice with me.… He and I are on the same wavelength."
Modest about her accomplishments, Rodriguez told Linda Robertson of the Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service that success in sports "all fades away very quickly. You're in the spotlight for five minutes." However, she also said that she wished there were more speedskating rinks around the country, so more young people could be exposed to the sport.
Houston Chronicle, February 20, 2002, p. 4; February 21, 2002, p. 4.
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, February 6, 2002, p. K2312; February 8, 2002, p. K3101; February 11, 2002, p. K3365; February 16, 2002, p. K3926; February 17, 2002, pp. K4060, K4062; February 20, 2002, pp. K4330, K4355, K4358, K4397.
Sports Illustrated for Kids, January 2, 2002, p. 45.
U.S. Speedskating, www.usspeedskating.org
- Jennifer Rodriguez: 1976—: Olympic Speed Skater - Competed In Nagano Olympics
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