Gangneung (South Korea) (AFP) – Shani Davis insisted he wasn’t distracted by a row over the US flag-bearer for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after he finished 19th in the 1,500m speed skating on Tuesday.
“I’ve been through a lot worse,” shrugged Davis, who had prompted a backlash when he suggested a racial motive after losing the right to carry the flag on the toss of a coin.
Davis, the most decorated US Winter Olympian with two Olympic golds and two silvers, lost out to Erin Hamlin when America’s winter sports federations couldn’t decide on the flag bearer, and tossed a coin to settle the matter.
The African-American Davis labelled the coin flip “dishonourable” in a Twitter post with the hashtag #BlackHistoryMonth2018, triggering an angry response on social media.
“I’ve been through a lot worse than what’s been going on for the past few weeks so it didn’t disturb me whatsoever,” said Davis, 35, in his first comments on the furore.
“I’m OK, nothing distracted me. No excuses for not performing.
“I just wasn’t strong enough to compete with the top-level guys. I’m thinking and hoping that this is out of the way now and I can just concentrate on the 1,000m.”
Davis, who put his Twitter feed in “protected” mode at the weekend, blocking new followers and access to his posts, added: “After the Olympics have gone I will sit back and go through everything in my mind, but I’m just happy to be here.
“The Olympics is a beautiful thing.”
The Netherlands celebrated a one-two in the 1,500m with Kjeld Nuis storming to gold ahead of compatriot Patrick Roest.