Kelly Gunther, an early childhood education major at Salt Lake Community College, placed 33rd in women’s 1,000 meter speedskating at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
The prestigious opportunity to compete on the world’s stage was preceded by her life of dedication and passion for the sport of speedskating.
Born to a working class family in Lorain, Ohio, Gunther found her passion for skating at six years old. She began her career as an inline skater, competing on the U.S. Junior World Championship team.
Gunther’s father left home when she was 11 years old. Being brought up in a single parent home has kept Gunther humble as she worked cleaning apartments in the evening.
It did not stop her from pursuing her passion for skating. In 2009 Gunther traded in her wheels for blades as she began ice speedskating. She moved to Utah to get a spot on the 2010 Olympic winter team.
However, due to a technicality she narrowly missed qualifying for the final spot on the team. Gunther stuck to her trademark will to “always believe” and never stopped training for her second opportunity at Olympic glory.
In the spring of 2010, Gunther was competing in a 500 meter race at the Utah Olympic Oval.
She was coming into a turn when she slipped on the ice, sliding into the track’s pads.
Gunther suffered a severe injury to her ankle stating in the YouTube video “Ready To Believe: The Kelly Gunther Story” that if the skate had been removed, her foot would have been removed with it. She underwent intensive rehab and began skating a mere six months after her accident.
Four years later, Gunther has been labeled “the comeback kid” with a spirit and determination that has now brought her to her goal – a spot on the 2014 U.S. Olympic speedskating team.
Gunther recently tweeted words of encouragement to her fellow SLCC students: “Never give up on our dreams & always chase for what you want! Always believe in you & never give up!”