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Ken Henry

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameKenneth Charles "Ken"•Henry
Used nameKen•Henry
Born7 January 1929 in Chicago, Illinois (USA)
Died1 March 2009 in Lake Bluff, Illinois (USA)
AffiliationsNorthwest Chicago Speedskating Club, Chicago (USA)
NOC United States


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).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1948 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) USA Ken Henry
500 metres, Men (Olympic) 5
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 22
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 18
1952 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) USA Ken Henry
500 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 17
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 29
1956 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) USA Ken Henry
500 metres, Men (Olympic) =17

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1960 Winter Olympics USA Ken Henry

Special Notes