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J. R. Celski ( 1990 - )  Category ( Sports_Figures ) [suggest a correction]

J.R. Celski is an American Olympic champion in short track speed skating. In the Vancouver, Canada 2010 Winter Olympics he won the bronze medal in the men's 1500 meters race and the men's 5000 meter relay. He is no stranger to other metals; however, as he won two gold medals, one silver, and one bronze at the World Championships.

Celski was born in Monterey, California, the youngest of three children and son to an officer serving in the United States Army. Army life took the family next to Federal Way, Washington, where Celski excelled in school and continued to skate. Later still, the family returned to California, where Celski graduated from Lakewood High School with high honors in the Merit Scholars Program.This was a particularly proud achievement since Celski had to juggle studies, competition, and hours of training each day. Additionally, he had to go through the usual teenage angst, adjusting to a new school and making new friends.

Through family support and personal fortitute he was able to come through high school with flying colors. He plans to continue his education at the University of California, Berkeley.

In 2008, Celski was invited to join the U.S. National Short Track Ice Team in Salt Lake City, Utah. During the 2008-2009 season, he traveled all over the United States, Asia, Canada, and Europe, winning medals along the way. He has stated that the travel and comradarie of his fellow skaters, along with making new friends and experiencing world culture, was one of the high points of his career. Upon his return home the family celebrated the marriage of Celski's brother, David, to Brit Samson. Celski describes the wedding as a major family event, with friends and relatives coming from around the world to attend. He and his brother delivered a speech to the newlywed couple.

Love of family is often accompanied by ethnic pride, and Celski honors his dual heritage of Polish and Phillipino. He even sports a large chest tattoo displaying symbols related to the Phillipino flag. The tattoo was recently revealed when Celski removed his shirt to change clothes at a skating event. The revelation created quite a buzz across the blogosphere.

Celski is the youngest of three sons in the family, his mother is Phillipino and his father is Polish. Celski has stated that the 2010 Olympics were rewarding on so many levels. "The whole thing is exciting, it's great to be here," he said. Asked about the excitement involved with winning a medal, he responded, "I didn't think I'd get to take a medal home with me, but it's nice to be able to!" What drives him, despite the stress and pressure, he said, is to relax when he is not on skates, and stay focused when he is.

The only ritual he claims to do prior to skating is always putting his left skate on first.

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