Unstoppable Fabris skates to unprecedented success

Italy's first Olympic medal in speed skating came courtesy of Enrico Fabris, with a bronze in the 5000m. He was more than 3.5secs behind the winner, Chad Hedrick, but the home crowd greeted his bronze medal with huge acclaim. What they didn't know was that Fabris was now about to stop there.

Fabris was a 24-year-old policeman from Vicenza who had hit form at just the right time. A month before the Winter Olympics he had won the European championship to become his nation's first all-round champion. And now, inspired by the sighs and sounds of his home crowd, Fabris felt more confident than ever.

Five days later he was part of the Italian team that stared the team pursuit final. The event was making its Olympic debut in Turin and the Italians were a little fortunate to make the final. They had been trailing the Netherlands in the semi-final when Sven Kramer fell, allowing Italy to sweep past to victory.

The final saw the Italians take an early lead over Canada before their rivals came back at them. Once again, the cheers of the crowd lifted the home athletes and, their resolve strengthened, they held on to win by nearly three seconds to give Italy its first ever speed skating gold medal.

Fabris was now unstoppable. His final event was the 1500m, where he was up against the American favourites Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick, who had been trading the world record and the world all-round title. Few thought the gold medal would go to anyone else.

Fabris was slow through the first 700m but accelerated hard and finished his 1500m at a blistering speed to go round in 1.45.97. Hedrick couldn't beat it and then, to the jubilation of the crowd, neither could Davis, finishing 0.16 seconds slower. Fabris had taken his second gold medal of the Games, five days after his first. He left Turin with two golds and one bronze, by far the most glittering haul of his career.