Derek Parra won the gold medal in the 1,500 meter speed skating event at the Winter Olympics on February 19, 2002. His winning speed of 1:43.95 set a new world record (although it has since been broken, it is still an Olympic record).
Ten days before, while in Salt Lake City, Utah, Derek won the silver medal in the 5,000-meter race in the time of 6:17.98, an American record.
Derek was born in San Bernardino on March 15, 1970, and graduated from Eisenhower High School in Rialto. At 14 he started roller skating at San Bernardino's Stardust Roller Rink (21st and Lugo). He moved from roller skates to in-line skates and by 1996 Derek had earned 18 individual gold medals and had become the most decorated athlete at the 1995 Pan-American Games.
After switching to ice skates, Derek became the 2000 U.S. all-round overall champion, the 2001 U.S. national champion and the 2001 U.S. North American champion and won the silver medal in the 1,500 meter race at the 2001 World Single Distance Championships.
In 2002 he was one of eight athletes chosen to carry the flag that hung above Ground Zero in New York after the attack of September 11th.
Derek was chosen as the U.S. speed skating national all-around coach for the 2010 Olympics and is a member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Derek Parra is the first-ever Mexican American to compete in, and medal, in the Olympic Winter Games. He now teaches at the Utah Olympic Oval's Learn to Skate program, the same oval in which he won gold.