Ken Henry was the first American to win an Olympic and a World Championship in speed skating. Henry actually twice won the World 500 meter championship, in 1949 and 1952, placing fourth in the overall championship in both years. In 1952 he added his Olympic gold medal in the short sprint. Henry also competed in the 1948 and 1956 Olympics without winning a medal. Ken Henry holds the distinction of being the first American Olympic athlete to light the Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony. This occurred in 1960 at Squaw Valley when he was handed the torch by skiing gold medalist, Andrea Mead Lawrence. Henry circled the ice rink before lighting the Olympic Flame. In 1968, Henry’s Olympic connection continued when he was the head coach of the U.S. speed skating team. Henry stayed involved in sports with his job – for many years he was a golf professional at a club in a Chicago suburb. Henry attended Northern Illinois University where he majored in physical education and played on the golf team.
Personal Bests: 500 – 42.1 (1949); 1500 – 2:21.9 (1949); 5000 – 8:38.0 (1950); 10000 – 17:48.1 (1949).