Chicago’s speeding skating world champion Shani Davis, one of America’s most decorated athletes to compete in the Winter Olympics, lost the honor to carry the ﬂag for Team USA during the opening ceremonies on a coin toss.
On the coin toss, the honor passed to Erin Hamlin, a four-time Olympic luger, who won a bronze medal
at the Winter Olympics in 2014.
Davis, the ﬁrst African American to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics, skipped the opening ceremonies, The Washington Post reported.
“One representative from each of the eight U.S. winter sports federations voted, and because Hamlin and Davis each received four votes, the decision was left to a coin toss, in a process established beforehand by the U.S. Olympic Committee,” according to The Washington Post.
The move has raised questions about the standards and criteria that Team USA uses in giving the highest honor to an Olympic athlete.
Davis shared his displeasure on social media.
“I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the ﬁrst American to 2-peat in that event,” Davis tweeted. “@TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 ﬂag bearer. No problem.
I can wait until 2022.
Hamlin carried the American ﬂag into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium in South Korea leading the 244-member American team into the $60 million stadium to kick off the two-week Winter Games.
With two gold medals, two silvers and a groundbreaking career, the honor should have gone to Davis, critics of the coin toss have said, a celebrated speed skater with a 16-year career that also includes 10 world championships and four world records in speed skating. He is one of the most senior members on the team who broke racial barriers in a sport that has traditionally been dominated by athletes from more afﬂuent ethnic groups. A native of Chicago, Davis dispelled stereotypes and beat odds to achieve his Olympic dreams. His unprecedented success has paved the way for a new generation of African American athletes who are competing in this year’s Winter Games. Davis is now competing in his ﬁfth Winter Olympics. But at 35, this will likely be Davis’ last chance to be honored by carrying the ﬂ ag for Team USA.
Hamlin is a four-time Olympic luger and the ﬁrst American female luger to win a medal at any Olympics. She won a bronze medal at the Winter Games in Sochi in 2014 and became “the ﬁrst U.S. athlete to win an Olympic singles luge medal in the sport’s 50-year Olympic history,” according to Team USA.
While her historic victory at the Sochi games was unprecedented, some would argue that Hamlin’s accomplishments are not as impressive as the gold and silver medals Davis amassed