Bonnie Blair is the only American woman to win five Olympic gold medals in the Winter Games. Within the world of speed skating, she is a true legend.
Blair began her career at the age of 16, when she first entered the world of Olympic-style speed skate racing -- in which two racers rocket around a 400-meter ice track, competing not against each other, but against the clock. In 1982, she sharpened her skills on the European circuit and the next year won the U.S. Indoor Speed Skating title, a feat she would repeat in 1984 and 1986.
Blair was the first skater ever to win two consecutive gold medals in the 500-meter sprint, earning her the 1992 Sullivan Award as the nation's outstanding amateur athlete. She won gold medals at the 1988, 1992, and 1994 Olympics in the 500 and 1,000 meter events. In 1994, when Blair skated her final Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, she captured her sixth medal, emerging as the most decorated Winter athlete in U.S. history, as well as the record holder for the most gold medals (five) won by an American woman in any sport. In the last race of her career, Blair broke her own seven-year-old American record in the 1000-meter race.
Now Blair hopes to educate women about a common post-childbirth condition, stress urinary incontinence (SUI). After the birth of her first child, Blair was eager to return to her daily exercise routine, especially her morning runs. However, like many new mothers, no one had prepared her for the possibility that after childbirth she could develop an embarrassing condition: the leaking of urine during day-to-day activities. When she went on her first run, within half a block her shorts were soaked. She was too embarrassed to talk to her doctor or even her husband.
After she'd had her second child, Blair was diagnosed with stress urinary incontinence (SUI). SUI is the loss of urine during sudden movements, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or any other movement that puts stress on the bladder. Fortunately, most women who suffer from urinary incontinence can do something to treat this condition. She tried different treatments, including Kegel exercises, weights, and electrical stimulation to strengthen her pelvic muscles. After exhausting all of these possibilities and seeing little improvement, Blair and her doctor discussed a minimally invasive surgical option. Within a day or two she was back to most of her day-to-day activities.
Bonnie Blair is a paid spokesperson for GYNACARE, makers of TVT, a device for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence.