Short track speedskater J.R. Celski has seen his fair share of injuries in the past, but somehow, the 22-year-old always seems to overcome adversity.
This time, Celski's success came in the form of a world record when, on Oct. 21, the American became the first man to finish the 500-meter race in fewer than 40 seconds. At the ISU Short Track World Cup event in Calgary, Celski finished in a time of 39.973 to claim the top spot ahead of Canada's Charles Hamelin. Hamelin finished in a time of 40.420.
The world record was a surprise even for Celski, he said.
"I wasn't really expecting to go that fast today because it's been a long weekend of racing," Celski said after the race. "Ice kind of tends to break down over time, but it held its ground and I'm really excited to come out with that world record today. … I still can't believe it but I think it will sink in in the next couple of days."
The world record comes after Celski spent a couple of seasons away from the track. Following the Olympic Games, Celski opted to take the 2010-2011 season off. He returned in 2011-2012, only to break his ankle in December.
The broken ankle was mild compared to the injury he sustained leading up to the 2010 Olympic Games. At the 2010 Olympic Trials, Celski fell and sliced his leg open during the 500-meter semifinals race. The wound required surgery, 60 stitches and time away from training, but the then-20-year-old managed to recover in time for the Vancouver Olympic Games, which were just five months later. He even came home with two bronze medals -- one in the 1,500-meter race and one in the 5,000-meter relay.
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Sandra Johnson is a longtime fan of Olympic sports. While working for the United States Olympic Committee and living in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46
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