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If you like Dorothy Hamill's story, you might also like:
Tenley Albright,
Susan Butcher,
Suzanne Farrell,
Scott Hamilton,
Sally Ride
and Amy Tan

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Dorothy Hamill in the Achievement Curriculum section:
The Amazing Olympic Games

Related Links:
Dorothy Hamill
Team USA

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Dorothy Hamill
Dorothy Hamill
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Dorothy Hamill Interview (page: 3 / 6)

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  Dorothy Hamill

How tough was it in the beginning? You read about people getting up at dawn to take kids to the ice skating rink. Were you getting up at 4:00 in the morning with your mother?

Dorothy Hamill: My mother got up at 4:00 in the morning. I give her so much more credit today. You know, at the time I was just a kid. Well, that's what, you know, mom is doing. She got up and she'd make breakfast for me and bring it up to me in bed and wake me up and lay my clothes out and help me put them on. And then she'd go warm up the car. You know, in the wintertime it was freezing outside. She'd go down, start the car so I'd get into a warm car. I mean, she treated me like a little princess. And it was what I wanted to do. I didn't really -- a couple of the kids asked me today, you know, "Do you feel as though you missed out on anything in childhood because of your sacrifices?" Absolutely not. I loved it. Skating was the perfect excuse not to have to go to a friend's house, you know, for a sleep over. Not that I didn't have friends or didn't like my friends. I had a couple of very close friends. And I was always being invited to sleep overs and things. I just didn't want to go. So it was the perfect excuse. And you know, I think a lot of that was the shyness. But my mom sacrificed; I didn't sacrifice anything. I just was passionate, you know, it's all that passion.

[ Key to Success ] Passion

How did your brother and sister feel about it?

Dorothy Hamill: By the time I got heavily involved in competition, my brother was away. He went to Exeter Academy, and he thought it was great, or he didn't care. My sister actually liked it because she was in the teenage years. She was probably about 13. She loved the fact that mom wasn't there that much. She liked that. You know how moms and daughters start to butt heads at that age. She was happy that I had mom with me and mom wasn't on her case all the time.

It's certainly something you couldn't have done without the support of your family.

Dorothy Hamill: Absolutely could never have done it without my family. My father was very musical. That really was his passion, but when he grew up, you know, the oldest male child wasn't a musician. You know, they got a real job and they went to school and they got a good education. But deep down inside his love was music. And if he could have been Benny Goodman or Glen Miller! Because he had his own band, he composed music at Princeton, in school. That was his real love. So musically, my father, you know, educated me. We would sit together and listen to records and pick music for skating programs, skating routines. And so we had a very, very close relationship there. And he got weekend duty of driving me to the skating rink.

When did it first dawn on you that you could be somebody in skating, that you could win competitions?

Dorothy Hamill: The first competition I ever won was the second competition I ever competed in. It was in Central Park in New York. And I remember the little girls who had perfect dresses and they had been skating for years and they all knew one another. They were all from Long Island and Manhattan and I was from Connecticut and there was nobody else that I knew. And when the scores went up on the board on the wall, they all looked at me and pointed and said, "You won!" And I was shocked because I wasn't as good as they were. So I don't know how I won. And I think -- you know, I never liked competition ever. It was always far too nerve-wracking. But I did well, so I guess that's why I kept doing it. And in order to get to do what I do today, I had to compete and I had to win a gold medal.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

How tough was it to overcome your shyness?

Dorothy Hamill: I'm still working on it. I'm much better than I was, but it was very difficult. Painful.

As much as people have written about your ice skating, they write about your personality. One would never suspect that you are shy.

Dorothy Hamill: I'm better in a one-on-one situation, but I still have moments where I absolutely freeze because I'll be completely in awe of people. In the beginning people took it as if I was aloof or a snob or something, but I would just freeze.

I felt I had nothing to say to anybody that anybody wanted to hear. And you know, what is so ironic is that by winning a gold medal, you're thrown into the spotlight. And having that first thing after winning a gold medal, after blood doping, there's a press conference. And all of a sudden there are swarms of reporters. And the first question that I remember somebody asking me was, "How are you going to top that?" And I thought, Jiminy Christmas! You know, a life long goal of mine: to win an Olympic Gold Medal. Well life long, from the time that I was 13 or something. And I actually did it and now they're going to say, "How are you going to top that?" I don't know. What do I say? Besides being painfully shy, I didn't even -- it was -- I was stunned. It was just, 'Whoa! Is this what it's all about?" It was just not at all what I expected.

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This page last revised on Oct 19, 2011 23:30 EDT
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