US Olympic Speed Skater Shani Davis has done a good job of keeping his girlfriend away from the press. He often mentions her in passing but her name and personal bio is a mystery. What we do know is that she is Japanese and Davis has proven to be quite the lover of Japanese culture.
Before we get into Shani's obsession with the Far East, let's all admit that it has been a long time since Vancouver and a refresher course on the who's who of the Winter Olympic games is in order. So here it is: Shani Davis is about to be a three-time Olympian competing for the US speedskating team. He is the first Black athlete from any country to ever take home an individual gold at the Winter Olympics (which he has 2 of,) he holds world titles, and two Olympic silver medals. Not too shabby!
Despite his incredible performance for team USA, Davis has been at the center of several disputes with the US Speedskating Federation and at the 2010 Olympics he publicly declared himself "a solo entity." He later placed a button on his backpack stating "I'M A WORLD CITIZEN," perhaps in an attempt to ease tensions after his previous declaration was not well received. While his antics were widely publicized during the 2010 Olympics, he managed to overcome the negative publicity when he won a gold and silver medal for the US…and apparently the world.
So now that we have jogged your memory let's get back to Davis' Japanese girlfriend and his admiration for her homeland. Four years ago in Vancouver Shani received a lot of attention from the Japanese press even though his girlfriend stayed home and in his words was "supporting him from afar." Shani drew in the Japanese audience when he revealed that he would be skating with a lucky charm from Japan that his girlfriend gave him. He gloated in two separate interviews:
It's a winning charm, my girlfriend wants me to win. Pretty cool, huh." and "I'm a big fan of Japan. I have a lucky pendant and I love Pikachu (a cartoon character printed on his skate guards). He's my greatest fan,
He also admitted to being very close friends with Japanese rival Joji Kato:
We talk all the time. His strength is his amazing speed from 100m. He runs those corners like nobody else.
As if that wasn't enough he sang the praises of Japanese skater Miho Takagi who was bursting onto the scene in 2010 at age 15.
It was really nice to see someone so young on the circuit. It's an opportunity of a lifetime for her. (I told her) not to get too distracted. Most of the time it can get distracting if you are not used to it. When I was 15 I was watching the Olympics on television.
Lastly Davis gained instant brownie points with Japanese fans when he confessed his love for a popular Japanese gum.
I've got some Hi-Chew here, It's my favorite Japanese candy. I love Hi-Chew. Please, send me some.
Although Shani never revealed much more about his love life, it is clear his girlfriend had quite the effect on him in 2010. Now , as Sochi approaches we look forward to finding out if Shani has remained enamored with Japan. Perhaps that will give us a clue about his current relationship status. We will keep you posted!