Everyone in speed skating knew Eric Heiden was a cinch for a speed skating gold medal--maybe even two--at the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, N.Y.
But no one was prepared for five golds, a sweep of every event from 500 to 10,000 meters. No one dared to dream that he would win more gold medals than all but two nations represented at Lake Placid.
But that's what he achieved, finishing his sweep with a flourish 19 years ago today, with a remarkably easy victory in the 10,000. Known as a sprinter, he defeated the defending Olympic champion, Piet Kleine of the Netherlands, by eight seconds.
Heiden, at 21, became not only the youngest Winter Olympics champion in history, he set five Olympic records and one world record, his 14:28.13 for the 10,000.
At a news conference after winning his fifth gold, Heiden amused reporters by telling them how he'd started his final day.
"I overslept," he said. "Someone banged on my door, I got dressed, ran to the cafeteria to get three pieces of bread, then ran off to the rink."
The son of a Madison, Wis., orthopedic surgeon, Heiden today is an orthopedic surgeon in Sacramento.
Also on this date: In 1960, Carol Heiss of New York, a four-time world champion, skated to the music of the Nutcracker Suite in a fire engine-red costume and won the Winter Olympics figure skating gold medal at Squaw Valley, Calif. In 1951, in San Francisco, Joe Louis was booed when he won on a TKO but couldn't put away a plumber named Andy Walker . . . In 1985, Indiana basketball Coach Bob Knight was assessed three technical fouls within minutes of each other, including one for throwing a chair across the court. . . . In 1980, Ray Eliot, one-time Illinois football coach whose teams won two Rose Bowls, died at 74. . . . In 1935, Azucar won the $100,000 Santa Anita Handicap.