This Day in Black History: Dec. 22, 2001

Shani Davis became the first African-American to qualify for the United States Olympic speed skating team.

Posted: 12/22/2012 07:00 AM EST

On Dec. 22, 2001, Shani Davis became the first Black person to qualify for a spot on the U.S. Olympic speed skating team to participate in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The then-19-year-old didn't earn any medals in his first Olympic appearance, but went on to break barriers and make history at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, becoming the first Black person of any nation to win gold in the 1,000 meter race and silver in the 1,500 meter race. Repeating his success, he took home gold in the 1,000 meter and silver in the 1,500 meter race at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

Davis has set eight world records in all and currently holds the record for the 1,000 meter (1:06.42), 1,500 meter (1:42.06) and all-round points (145.752). He is currently ranked the #1 speed skater in the world, according to his official website.

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  (Photo: Hong Wu/Getty Images)

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