Floyd C. Bedbury
Floyd was born July 24, 1937 and passed away on March 25, 2011. As a child, he was dissatisfied with his first pair of hockey skates, so he searched for something different. When he saw a pair of speedskates, he knew he’d found exactly what he wanted. Although his mother thought the skates looked too dangerous, Floyd cried until she gave in and he soon became the only hockey player on speedskates. As a nine year old, and without parental permission, he walked two miles to a speedskating event and came home with a third place medal. Six years later, Floyd was winning national events and looking forward to greater things. He held the state Senior records for five distances in long track and two national records for short track distances. In fact, Floyd was the first person to skate a short track mile in less than three minutes. He skated with the Midway Speedskating Club for almost thirty years.
In 1955, he earned an alternate spot on the 1956 Winter Olympic Speedskating team and decided it was time to get serious. After graduating from high school, Floyd traveled to Hamar, Norway to train with skilled coaches in order to improve his technique and form. His arrival in Hamar was terrifying and lonely as he lived on $3 a day at the Hamar Youth Hostel.
“My mother was going nuts because I was going over there and didn’t speak the language,” Floyd says. “I thought, ‘I’ve really cooked my goose this time. What am I going to do?’” Luckily, the U.S. Ambassador to Norway befriended Floyd, helped him adapt to the country and gave him advice. Floyd’s skating career was taking off and in 1958, the ASU sent him to compete in the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland where he ended up placing fifth in the Men’s 500m. “It was pretty awe-inspiring,” he says about his competition in Helsinki. “It was so noisy in the stadium but very exciting.”
One year later, at the 1959 World Invitational in Squaw Valley, CA, Floyd shattered the 10,000m national record which had stood for 26 years. He reduced it by 26 seconds to 17:26 and set a U.S. record for the samalog. At the same event, he set national records in the 1500m (1:14.4) and the 5000m (8:15.3). Floyd earned a spot on the 1960 and 1964 Winter Olympics Teams held in Squaw Valley and Innsbruck, Austria respectively.
Now with the Twin City Speed Skating Club, Floyd coaches beginning speedskaters. He volunteers almost 230 days a year and has the opportunity to coach many quality skaters. He feels blessed to have been able to touch the lives of so many young people and hopes his coaching helped teach them, not just about skating, but about life. “Athletes are a group of people in the world who do get along and respect each other, no matter which country they are from,” Floyd says. “If the world could get along like athletes, the world would be a better place. Keep national politics out of our sports.” His individualized coaching techniques help each skater succeed at their own level and pace.
“I’ve got the most loving group I’ve ever run with in my life,” Floyd says. “We are a team who has fun and respect for each other no matter what level. This makes us a great team.” Floyd was inducted to the National Speedskating Hall of Fame in Bethlehem, PA on April 19, 2008.