I’ve never ice skated in any serious capacity, but I always appreciate freaky legs and gold medal performances so Eric Heiden is a hero of mine. At the age of 21, Heiden won every long track speed skating event at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics (500m, 1000m, 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m). That was more gold than Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, West Germany, Italy, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and France combined.
He was the first and only person to do this and is the only person to win all events over a career. He is undoubtedly the only person that will achieve this feat. To put this in some context for those of us that don’t skate, his feat is the equivalent of Usain Bolt showing up in London and winning the 100m and every event between and including the 10,000m. It would be impossible.
After Lake Placid, Heiden abruptly retired from skating, became a professional cyclist. He was the champion of the 1985 U.S. National Championship road race, finished the 1985 Giro d’Italia and was 5 days from finishing the 1986 Tour de France when he crashed out. A pretty versatile athlete. He then gained his medical degree from Stanford and has since become a prominent orthopedic surgeon.
Apparently, in 1978, he did a wall sit for one hour. For those that don’t know – a wall sit is to stand with your back against a wall, thighs parallel to the ground, knees at 90 degrees with your arms at your side. Try doing this for two minutes and you’ll get an idea of how impressive this guy was. Incidentally, wall sits are a really good isometric exercise for your legs. I do them currently as part of my strength training. He also had 69cm thighs with a 78cm waist. What an animal.