In 1964 they called him the Essexville barber, and Terry McDermott won the only United States gold medal at the 1964 Olympic Winter Games. McDermott was well known as a sprinter in the United States, having won the National Indoor title in 1960 and the North American indoor in 1961. McDermott continued to be a force in the sprints through 1968. He set an American record in the 220 yards which stood for many years, and in 1968, he was again a favorite to take gold in the 500 meters at Grenoble. But on that day Terry McDermott skated late in the field, well after the ice had started to soften in the sun, and he had little chance. Amazingly, he finished in 40.5 to share the silver medal only 2/10ths out of first. Winner Erhard Keller graciously conceded that McDermott had had the best race of the day given the conditions under which he had skated.
From 1963 until 1967, Terry McDermott was a barber. In that year, however, he took a job as a manufacturer’s representative in the Detroit area. He has also served as a speed skating official and at the 1980 Olympics spoke the Official’s Oath at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games. McDermott had missed the Closing Ceremony in 1964 as he had already flown home to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. The show received the highest viewing figures of any TV program in US history up to that time, although that was less to do with McDermott’s appearance and more to do with it being the US live TV debut of the Beatles.
Personal Bests: 500 – 39.6 (1964); 1000 – 1:28.0 (1968); 1500 – 2:22.1 (1968).