Meet Joey Cheek, an Olympic American speed skater. See photos, video and a biography of Joey below.
Joey Cheek is in the news today, as he was informed Tuesday that his Visa was revoked by the Chinese Embassy just hours before he was set to leave for the Beijing Olympics. He was to travel there to support over 70 athletes on Team Darfur. Cheek and former UCLA water polo player Brad Greiner co-founded Team Darfur in 2006, which is an organization of international athletes who bring awareness to the crisis in Darfur, with the hopes of putting an end to the unrest there.
The barring of Cheek and Greiner from the Beijing Olympics did not go unnoticed by the White House, and they are asking that the decision be overturned. White House press secretary Dana Perino said that they are “disturbed” that Cheek’s Visa has been refused and she is hoping they will change their minds.
Cheek said in a statement:
“I am saddened not to be able to attend the Games,” Cheek said in the statement. “The Olympic Games represent something powerful: that people can come together from around the world and do things that no one thought were possible. However, the denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur.”
As a biography, Joey Cheek was born William Joseph Cheek on June 22, 1979 in Greensboro, North Carolina. He won the bronze medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in the 1000 meters event, and unfortunately missed medaling in the 1,500 meters by 0.08 seconds.
He took third place at the World Single Distance Championships in 2003 in both the 1,000 and 1,500 meters. 2006 was Cheek’s breakout year, becoming the world sprint champ in January and winning the gold at the Winter Olympics in Turn in the 500 m event and the silver in the 1000 m event. He made the headlines again when he donated $40,000 (his bonus gold and silver bonus from the USOC) to Right To Play, a humanitarian organization founded by former Norwegian speedskating Olympian, Johann Olav Koss.
More photos and video of Joey Cheek are below.