Teenage speedskater Lehman wraps up 1st Olympics
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Emery Lehman sat on the pads next to the ice, his chest heaving in and out, and grabbed for a red bucket.
The 17-year-old American speedskater felt nauseous after going 25 grueling laps in the 10,000 meters at the Sochi Olympics and lowered his head to use the pail labeled “vomit bin.”
“I’ve never really thrown up after a race, but might as well do it at the Olympics,” he said, laughing.
Lehman completed his sport’s longest Olympic race in 13 minutes, 28.67 seconds to finish 10th on Tuesday. He figured it was just the sixth or seventh time he had ever skated the 10K in his young career.
“It was quite the fight at the end,” he said after rallying over the final laps to cross the line just behind Russia’s Yevgeny Seryayev in his pairing.
“It’s always good to have a crowd cheering, maybe not for me, but the crowd cheering nonetheless,” he said. “It was good to have someone to chase down the whole race. It definitely made me push a little more in the end.”
The effort closed out the first Olympics for Lehman, who is from the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Ill. He was 16th in the 5,000 on the first weekend of the games.
An Olympic highlight for him was attending the U.S. victory over Russia in hockey; Lehman is a huge Chicago Blackhawks fan and enjoyed seeing some of their players in the game.
He and teammate Patrick Meek of Chicago rode bikes over to Adler Arena before the 10,000, discussing their plans for dinner later at USA House in the Olympic Park.
Lehman impressed his older teammates with his level-headed approach on the biggest stage in sports.
“When you see him off the ice and what a cool kid he is and what a good head he has on his shoulders, that’s the more impressive thing than his skating,” said Meek, who was 11th in the 10,000 at 13:28.72.
“The age on his passport is 17 years old, but he’s more mature than half the guys on the team,” Meek added. “He’s a good kid, he was raised well by his parents. The future is bright for him.”
Lehman is a senior at Oak Park-River Forest High, and between last month’s U.S. trials and the Olympics he’s missing a lot of school. He spent the week between his individual races doing homework.
But it was more about being strategic than diligent.
“I can have fun in two weeks in Norway with the junior kids,” he said. “I won’t have any homework to do.”