TODAY

TODAY   |  January 15, 2014

Shani Davis: ‘I simply want to win’

Champion speed skater talks to NBC Olympic analyst Apolo Ohno in a candid interview. Davis, 31, who is shooting for a threepeat in Sochi, Russia, says he is still chasing the dreams he has had since he was a child.

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>>> "today's" olympic start is brought to you by kellogg's.

>> we're back at 8:38 with today's olympic start. the winter games in sochi begin in 22 days. and once again, u.s. speed skater davis has his eyes on gold. apolo ono is going to be covering the games for us at nbc, which we're very happy about. and apolo joins us in the studio this morning. good to see you.

>> good to see you. after capturing gold in the 1,000 meter, davis will attempt to be the first male skater to win the event three olympics in a row. he also hopes to improve on a pair of medals he settled for in the 1500 meters. davis looks very, very strong going into the games.

>> let's take a look.

>> being born and raised in chicago made me tough. i feel like i can deal with anything. i truly believe that in my heart.

>> and if there's one thing i could tell you about the 18 years i've known him, it's how little shani davis has changed.

>> let's talk about your decision to train alone, to be solo, to be the maverick. why have you done that?

>> no other teammates can help you when you're on the ice by yourself against the clock. no one can help. so i decided, like, if i'm going to race on my own, i'm going to train on my own. i just remember the days where i wasn't an olympic champion or world champion or world record holder. people always told me i wasn't good enough, i wasn't talented enough, even called me lazy. i still carry that stuff with me to this day.

>> come on, man, you would have got that a few years ago.

>> that reminder in your head, right, that thing that says you're all in, all or nothing, right? where did that come from?

>> just a mentality i've always had, man, since i was younger. probably learned a lot of that from you, seeing you train and train together. we always pushed it 100%, man. never wanted to leave the day without knowing we did our best. so we go hard, go all in.

>> reporter: shani davis is from the south side of chicago and began speed skating when he was 6 years old.

>> at that time it was a very elitist sport. when i tried it out, i loved it ever since.

>> there's no speed skaters , so why didn't you choose a sport like football or baseball, a more conventional sport.

>> speed, man. i wanted to go fast. i was having fun , i enjoyed it. my home boys and friends clowned me real hard. made fun of me wearing tights. i hold those days closest to me the most because it's about the road of getting there that i love so much.

>> shani davis wins the gold medal for the united states .

>> davis shattered barriers in torino in 2006 becoming the first black athlete to capture individual gold at the winter games . four years later in vancouver, he had more success in 1,000 meters.

>> shani davis pushing it until the end! and he's got another gold medal .

>> setting him up for another shot at history.

>> you're going for a threepeat in sochi .

>> no man has ever won a threepeat.

>> whenever i put myself out there on the line skating against other people, i simply want to win. things haven't changed since i was a young kid. i wanted to be the fastest guy i could be. and i'm still chasing that dream to this day.

>> and we'll all be watching him in sochi . meanwhile, not only will you be covering stories for nbc sports , you'll be joining us on the opening ceremony . me and meredith vieira . you marched in 2002 not in torino or vancouver, what's that like entering the stadium?

>> it's hard to put in the words because the energy, the crowd, the buzz. it's unlike anything you've ever heard of and experienced in your life. i've been to world cup soccer games, this is something different, really unique and special about walking into an opening ceremony and having every single person in that audience scream and chant. and you're there and you feel, that's when you really feel like an olympic athlete.

>> can't wait to get your perspective on friday, february 7th for the opening ceremony . thanks for joining us for that.

>> thank you.

>> we'll see you there. and don't forget that olympic coverage on nbc starts the night before the opening ceremony , thursday,