Olympian Ohno Gets Hero's Welcome

SpeedskatingSportsApolo Ohno

Speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno may have been trailing Olympic glory, but the young women who turned out for his official downtown homecoming greeted him like a rock star -- with screams, squeals and sighs.

The crowd's large female contingent waved signs with messages from the standard "We love you Apolo" to more inventive and personal commentary:

"I'll flash for your autograph!"

"You smelled my hair in 7th grade English!"

"Apolo, will you be my prom date?"

There were also plenty of copycat soul patches -- the tuft of hair just below Ohno's lower lip that spurred a stick-on craze at the Salt Lake City Game.

Olympics fan Laurie Gootee used eyebrow pencil to draw blurry little patches on the faces of her daughters -- Kelly, 2, and Bailey, 1 -- as they squirmed in their stroller.

When Ohno arrived, the girls in the crowd screamed.

"Um," said Ohno to deafening shrieks that subsided long enough for fans to hear him thank them for the welcome home, though he trains at Lake Placid, N.Y., and has not lived here for several years.

"It feels good to be home. I've been away so long," Ohno said.

The 19-year-old scored Olympic gold in the men's 1,500 short-track speedskating race on a judge's decision.

He's considered a good bet for the 2006 Winter Games at Turin.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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