Topic: Dan Jansen

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Daniel ("Dan") Erwin Jansen (born June 17, 1965 is a former speed skater, best known for winning a gold medal in his final Olympic race after suffering through years of heartbreak. He graduated from West Allis Central High School.

Inspired by his sister Jane, Dan Jansen took up speedskating while growing up in Wisconsin. He set a junior world record in the 500 meter race at age sixteen, and finished sixteenth in the 1,000 meters and fourth in the 500 meters at the 1984 Winter Olympics.

At the 1988 Winter Olympics, Jansen – having become World Sprint Champion one week earlier – was a favorite for the 500 and 1,000 meter races, having improved in the years between Olympics, while overcoming a case of mononucleosis in 1987. However, in the early hours of the day of the race, he was informed that Jane was dying of leukemia. He spoke to his sister, who could not respond. Later that morning, he was informed that she died. He competed that night in the 500 meters, but fell early in the race. A few days later in the 1,000 meter race, he began with record-breaking speed but fell again. He left the 1988 Olympics with no medals, but became the recipient of the U.S. Olympic Spirit Award for his valiant efforts through tragedy.

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