Apolo Ohno: “Everything is great”

Apolo Ohno, the eight-time Olympic medalist, has always lived life by a simple and yet powerful credo:

Dream big. And then work hard and go make it happen.

That was Apolo appearing in a third-quarter Super Bowl commercial Sunday for Century 21, the real-estate concern, along with Donald Trump and NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.

Apolo is a big football fan but, to tell the truth, he didn’t watch the New York Giants’ 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. Instead, he had to fly Sunday out to the islands, to resume filming his scenes for the television show “Hawaii Five-O.” After a couple days on set, he’s due to fly to China and Japan — as a global ambassador to  the Special Olympics. While he’s in Japan there are meetings as well with the royal family. In Japan, Apolo also plans to spend some time with his grandmother.

Apolo assessing what's next // photo courtesy Yuki Ohno

“I’m great, man,” Apolo said in a recent phone call from Las Vegas, where he was in a series of business meetings. “Everything is great.”

For Apolo, two years after the Vancouver Olympics, everything really is great.

Last fall, he ran the New York Marathon in 3 hours, 25 minutes and 14 seconds — beating his goal by nearly five minutes.

He stars in Subway commercials and now that Century 21 ad.

“You know what’s awesome?” he asked, then answered: “An Olympic sport having a Super Bowl commercial. I don’t know the last time I saw one. That, to me, is awesome. I am really proud of that. You know, we have come such a long way. It’s great.”

Apolo’s next-projects list can sometimes seem breathtakingly endless.

“You have to manifest success,” he said. “The more and more you concentrate on it,” whatever “it” may be, in this case “it” being in front of the camera, “the more and more it’s likely to happen. Every single thing in my life I have wanted I have been able to somewhat get in some fashion.”

What’s next? More of this hectic, amazing, great life.

If you can believe it, it’s 10 years already since the Salt Lake Olympics, and the crazy race that catapulted Apolo onto the national — indeed, the international — stage, the 1000 meters that ended with a tangle just shy of the finish line, Apolo sprawled on the ice along with everybody else in the race but Australia’s Steve Bradbury, who had been trailing by roughly 30 meters, just coasting along. With everyone else down, Bradbury coasted across the line first, his arms raised in disbelief, Australia’s first-ever gold medal winner at the Winter Olympics. Apolo got up first and threw his skate across the line to take second.

It’s still one of the great moments in Olympic history.

Bradbury went on to become an icon in Australia. They issued a postage stamp in his honor, and “doing a Bradbury” is now part of the Australian lexicon.

Apolo, being Apolo, was never — not even for a moment — anything but gracious. Indeed, he has always celebrated the race, and the moment, and Bradbury’s accomplishment.

Ten years on, meanwhile, Apolo is still in killer shape.

Apolo gets asked all the time: are you coming back for Sochi and the 2014 Winter Olympics?

Keep this in mind:

Eight is Apolo’s number. He has eight Olympic medals, the most of any U.S. winter athlete in history.

Not to say he wouldn’t come back.

With Apolo, never say never.

“I am working on this short, 35-minute circuit I do. It’s really ridiculously intense. It’s called ‘the asylum,’ ” he said, a no-rest and high-intensity morning workout designed by John Schaeffer, the Pennsylvania-based trainer whose Winning Factor sports science training program got Apolo into the shape of his life for the Vancouver Games.

Beyond that, Apolo said, he’s weight-lifting, and has increased his upper-body strength.

Even so, Apolo said he and Michael Phelps had a recent conversation that revolved around “legacy and career,” as Apolo put it.

Apolo said, “I have so many friends and fans who say, ‘You have to come back.’ And of course I love the sport,” meaning short-track speed skating.

On set at "Hawaii Five-O" // photo courtesy Apolo Ohno

At the same time, having achieved over three successive Olympic Games, having seen that sports provided the springboard of the Apolo message, to dream and then achieve through hard work and dedication,  “I want to do something bigger.”

He said, “Ultimately, I have never said, ‘No, I’m not coming back.’ As of now, it’s not a priority.

“I’m trying to focus on things like the Special Olympics, charitable organizations and business organizations. There are other avenues and other things in my life I want to pay attention to.

“And now I have time for those things.”

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