GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (NEXSTAR) — Athletes spend years chasing the Olympic dream, but many never make it to the biggest stage in sports. Speedskater Brett Perry just missed the cut for the last Winter Olympics. Now his sights are set are on Beijing.
“It’s a cutthroat sport and if you don’t succeed, you don’t get anything for it,” Perry said.
Perry, of Midland, Michigan, has been speedskating since he was 9 years old.
“It’s different, you know. Unlike high school, you have football and basketball, everyone does that. Not a lot of people do speedskating. It was a great opportunity to be really good at something,” he said.
He started out on the short track, hoping to be the next Apolo Ohno, who has eight Olympic medals to his name.
“2002 Olympics — I started a year before that — he was the top guy,” Perry said. “Big inspiration.”
Eventually, Perry made the switch to long track. Four years ago, he just missed making the U.S. Olympic Team when he finished fourth at the trials. Only the top three get to go to the games.
Since then, he has been a member of the U.S. national team.
“It’s a big motivator to wear our country’s colors, for sure,” Perry said. “Wearing them in the world cups, it was a smidgen of what it would feel like. Wearing it in the Olympics, I can’t even imagine. It would be awesome.”
The Beijing Games will likely be his last shot. He recently got married and with more than only himself to support, he’s about to ready to hang up the skates and move on to the next chapter of his life.
But right now, his focus is the Olympic trials.
“Speedskating is very important to me. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, two-thirds of my life,” he said. “After skating, it’s going to feel weird not doing that. It is my life and I’ll lose something when I’m done.”
The Olympic trials for long track speedskating are Jan. 5 through Jan. 9 in Milwaukee. The games run Feb. 4 through Feb. 20.