John Daly did what he came to do — not necessarily to win an Olympic medal, but rather to go out in style.
Four years after faltering in his final skeleton run in Sochi to finish 15th, and two years after he returned to the sport, Daly finished 16th in Pyeongchang on Friday morning in South Korea.
“That was my moment. I didn’t get a medal here, but to me that was my medal run,” Daly, who grew up in Smithtown, said after his final turn, as quoted by The Associated Press.
At 32, it likely was his last hurrah as an Olympian.
“I got to do four runs, lift my head up at the end, hold my head high, walk off the line and wave to my family. That’s something I didn’t get four years ago.”
It was a far cry, literally, from what happened in Russia, when he was in tears after three runs under 57 seconds had him in fourth place and thus medal contention before a wobbly, ill-fated 58.54-second finale knocked him out.
South Korea’s Yun Sungbin won the gold medal in Pyeongchang. American Matt Antoine, a bronze medalist four years ago, was 11th, trailing the winner by a combined 3.84 seconds. Daly was 4.80 seconds behind the gold medalist.
“I guess I just didn’t want to wake up one day and realize I should have tried,” Daly said. “That was why I came back, is just to give it one more shot and truly see where the chips stack up.
“If I’m not in the medals, then I’m not in the medals. What are you going to do? But I gave it one more shot. I hope my story is inspiring someone else out there to just give it another go.”
Daly has been a popular and visible Olympian for someone from a relatively obscure sport and who did not medal. He is active on social media, has developed a Twitter relationship with golfer John Daly and is known to take his hair styles very seriously.
Before his last run he tweeted, “This last run is dedicated to everyone that has supported my journey. Thank you! #teamusa, @TeamUSA #OneMoreTime.”
Earlier, he had posted this statement on Twitter:
“I believe that everyone will have moments in their lives that will change who they are forever. Mine was Feb. 15, 2014. Once tomorrow’s race is over, the deafening crowds will silence and my name will no longer be in lights. I won’t remember how I made it through and I won’t be the same person I was when I started this journey.
“What I will remember are the memories made, the lifelong friendships that I’ll cherish and the fact that I held my head high, put my helmet on one more time, and tried.”
Daly told The AP before competing in South Korea, “It’s not unfinished business, but more like an unfinished feeling. The fourth run of your Olympics is supposed to be the most fun run of your career. I didn’t get that. I didn’t get that closed feeling, that closed-chapter feeling of my career. And that’s kind of what I want. That’s what I’m looking for.”
On Friday, he got it.