Apolo Anton Ohno (right) coaches a Special Olympics athlete Courtesy: Special Olympics

Apolo Anton Ohno

Apolo Anton Ohno (right) coaches a Special Olympics athlete Courtesy: Special Olympics

Eight-time speed skating Olympic medalist and Pacific Northwest native Apolo Anton Ohno talks inspiration on and off the ice, plus his role as a Global Ambassador for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle this summer.

On his motivation to get involved in Special Olympics  

My interest began before I retired from competitive sport. I was fascinated by the wide reach of these athletes and their ability to impact and resonate happiness in the world.

On Seattle hosting the games

Seattle is home, and people will bring love, energy, and support from every county.

On being a Global Ambassador

As an ambassador, I have the honor and pleasure of supporting the [organization’s] vision of unification and togetherness, and to educate the public about the mission of inclusion.

On his favorite part of working with the athletes 

Every time I get on the ice with the athletes, it makes me smile. It’s a place I’ve called home for so long, and being able to share that with them is pure gratitude. Their interactions when we do the unified races and competition are experiential beyond articulation. There is a pure happiness and joy that the athletes have when competing and being able to play.

On what inspires him most about the athletes 

The love they have for what they are doing. [For these athletes] sport is meant to be enjoyed, played hard, and fun with no distractions, where race, color, gender, and ability do not matter. It’s a wonderful reminder and lesson that we can all take with us.

On how to explore Seattle

Don’t miss Olympic Sculpture Park (*2901 Western Ave; seattleartmuseum.org), Seattle Symphony (*200 University St; seattlesymphony.org), and Seattle Public Library (*1000 Fourth Ave; spl.org). When it comes to local food, Ray’s Boathouse (*6049 Seaview Ave NW; rays.com), Purple (*1225 Fourth Ave; purplecafe.com), and Nishino (3130 E Madison Ave; nishinorestaurant.com) are favorites.

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