Her first experience as an Olympic spectator has energized Michelle Kwan, and may have inspired her to “do a Dara Torres” and go for gold one more time at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
“Dara Torres is amazing,” Kwan told TODAYshow.com on Wednesday. “She’s a mother, she’s in the best shape of her life and she’s in the Olympic Games. She’s shown age doesn’t matter.”
Since 1968, the oldest woman to medal in Olympic figure skating was Irina Slutskaya, who won bronze in 2006. The oldest woman to win gold since that time was Katarina Witt. She was 22 at the 1988 Games. Kwan turned 28 last month and will be 29 entering the Olympic season.
“They say 30 is the new 40. If that’s true and I’m 29 in Vancouver, then I’ll really be 19, which is the perfect skating age.”
Kwan is the most decorated U.S. figure skater in history, but Olympic gold has eluded her. She took home silver in 1998 and bronze in 2002. She was forced to withdraw from the 2006 Games due to injury.
“I have a silver and a bronze, and you how everyone says there’s something missing?” Kwan said. “I don’t know what that is, but I feel like something is missing, as well.”
Kwan continues to train, but her main priority is school. She will complete her studies at the University of Denver in November, and says she plans to make a decision about Vancouver at that time.
Kwan is in Beijing as part of a small presidential delegation to the Closing Ceremony. In 2006, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appointed Kwan as the first American Public Diplomacy Envoy. In her role, Kwan travels the world, speaking with young people about leadership.
She said she would like to continue her work with the State Department after she receives her degree in political science, unless she decides to focus her sights on Vancouver.
“You have to have your heart and soul and mind to be at the Olympics,” Kwan told TODAY’s Ann Curry. “You know, I've left all doors open and I haven't closed any doors yet. So I've got to make that decision soon.”