Michelle Kwan began her skating career when she was only five years old. In two short decades, she became one of just three women to have won five world championships along with holding the record for the most 6.0s (perfect scores)---a total of 57; 42 of which are from the US Nationals alone, with Brian Boitano coming in second with a total of 9. She has also won the US National championship nine times and has two Olympic gold medals; a silver in the 1998 Nagano Olympics and a bronze in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Michelle Kwan has been a highly decorated and highly committed athlete for her entire life and continues to be such today.
Born on July 7th, 1980 in Torrance, California, Michelle is the third child born to Danny and Estella Kwan, both Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong. She originally became interested in figure skating after following both her older siblings onto the rink when she was five. When she was eight years old she began seriously training with her sister; waking up at 3AM to skate before school and then returning after school to practice more! All her training and rink time wasn't free, though, and her family struggled to find ways to pay for it. But everyone pitched in and one Christmas when the family was unable to afford a tree, Michelle won the family a Christmas tree from school by stringing the most popcorn on a string. Michelle's dedication was apparent throughout all aspects of her life.
When Michelle was ten, however, the family could no longer afford a coach for her. But she lucked out; talent scouts saw her the regional competition and gave her a scholarship to the Ice Castle International Training Center in Lake Arrowhead, California. Two years after that, when Michelle was 12, she began competing at the national level. By 1994, she placed second to Tonya Harding in the US Championships when she was only 13. Placing second normally would have put her on the 1994 olympic team, but due to the controversy surrounding an attack against Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle only went as an alternate and did not get to compete. This did not deter her though; she continued to compete and win and went back to the Olympics in 1998 taking home the silver and returned in 2002 to take home the bronze. She may not have won the gold, but not everyone can. And even without it she has still achieved so much that she is easily recognized as one of the greatest figure skaters in the world.
Today Michelle Kwan is still actively competing in figure skating. Since the 2002 Olympics, she has won the National Championships in 2003, 2004, and 2005, and come in first in the 2003 World Championships and third in 2004. She intended to participate in the 2006 Olympics as well, however she had to withdraw due to an injury. Many speculated that 2006 would be her last shot at the Olympics, but Michelle says she hasn't retired yet. Many believe that she will continue on to the 2010 Olympics even though she'll be older than much of her competition. But nothing has stopped her yet and with such a strong drive, only the sky is the limit.
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