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Original Issue


Perhaps because they've spent the better part of their lives
toiling in the solitary world of an individual sport, Bonnie
Blair and Johann Olav Koss now seem bent on joining and serving
as many communities as they can. The two retired speed skaters,
who won multiple gold medals at the Lillehammer Winter Olympics
and were named our Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year in
1994, possess at least as much stamina as humanitarians as they
did as athletes.

"Where haven't I been recently," says the 28-year-old Koss with
a weary smile. "I've been to just about every country in Europe.
To Vietnam. Atlanta. Sarajevo. Rwanda." He's a tireless
campaigner for Olympic Aid, a program that raises money to
provide medicine, school supplies and other assistance to
impoverished children around the world. Koss, a Norwegian,
donated to Olympic Aid the $30,000 bonus he was awarded by his
country's government following the Lillehammer Games, and he has
stepped up his involvement since then. With the help of UNICEF,
he launched an Olympic Aid effort for the Atlanta Games--it
raised $12 million--and hopes to make Olympic Aid a part of all
future Games. What makes his globe-trotting all the more
remarkable is that he is a full-time medical student at the
University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, where he lives
with Aussie Olympic swimmer Samantha Riley.

Though she hasn't logged as many air miles as Koss, Blair, too,
is busy helping others. Over the past year she has made more
than 100 appearances for U.S. charities. When the World Sports
Humanitarian Hall of Fame gave her its Sports Humanitarian Award
on Nov. 8 in Boise, Idaho, she promptly deposited the $10,000
prize into the new Bonnie Blair Charitable Gift Fund, which
supports a variety of causes, including cancer research--her
brother Rob suffers from a brain tumor--and child welfare.

Blair, now 32, still devotes much of her time to her sport. She
coaches children at her home rink in Milwaukee, giving special
attention to her two nephews Nathan and Garrett Allen, and
serves as technical consultant to U.S. Olympic speed skater Dave
Cruikshank, whom she married last June 23. Blair also makes
generous donations to various speed skating centers. "I want to
keep money going to our sport, which is always lacking it," says
Blair, though with champions like her and Koss, the sport is
rich indeed.


COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL O'NEILL [Cover of Sports Illustrated magazine featuring Bonnie Blair and Johann Olav Koss as Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year]