Over his 12 years as track coach at Northwestern High School, Calvin Hudgins has worked with many talented athletes.
Few left an impression like Lauren Cholewinski.
Long before she reached the Vancouver Games as a speedskater, Cholewinski donned the Trojans purple and gold. She ran the first leg of the 4-by-100-meter relay.
"We knew she was a gifted athlete," Hudgins said. "When she showed up, there was no question she could run. Did I foresee her competing in the Olympics? No."
On Tuesday, Cholewinski did just that, finishing 30th in the women's 500-meter speedskating event, her only event in these Games. She skated in two heats, and in the first heat, she came in at 39.514 seconds – 1.27 seconds behind first-place Sang-Hwa Lee of South Korea. Her latter time was 39.587 seconds.
Cholewinski, who wore pink skates, did not expect to finish near the top. She's 21, and most speed skaters do not reach their peak until their late 20s or early 30s.
"This has been an amazing experience," Cholewinski said afterward. "I was just happy to make the Olympic team, and then being here was above and beyond my wildest expectations. Just to see all the countries gathered together, athletes from all the sports, you realize how big the Olympics really is and how it really brings the world together. It's a little overwhelming."
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