February 20, 2010
At the age of 20, the prodigious Swiss talent won both the normal hill and large hill titles at Salt lake City City 2002, turning into an overnight star in Switzerland and, much to his surprise, even warranting an appearance on the David Letterman show.
What was all the more astonishing was that prior to his Olympic double gold, he had never won a single World Cup event and his name had barely been mentioned among the pre-event medal protagonists.
All smiles: Simon Ammann and his wife Yana welcomed their son Théodore last weekend! Congrats and all the best! pic.twitter.com/9gzKfRljNl
— FIS Ski Jumping (@FISskijumping) October 18, 2014
He struck gold on the normal hill by just 1.5 points but was in a class of his own over the bigger distance, landing the best jump in each round for a seemingly comfortable victory.
Remarkably, it was his second Olympic appearance having qualified at the age of 16 at Nagano 1998, where he finished 35th.
The bespectacled jumper was even likened to the JK Rowling character Harry Potter by locals and the global media, and he was mobbed on the return to his home town.
“I have no words to describe the situation. It’s crazy. I tried so hard and I focused so much on my competition here. But everyone here is at their best.”
Hopes of a successful defence quickly dissipated four years later at Turin 2006 where, like on his Games debut, he was again out of the medals – barely even causing a ripple in a surprisingly lowly 15th and 38th in the two events.
But he made amends in some style at Vancouver 2010 where he once again doubled up in spectacular style in the normal hill and large hill individual events.
Less of a boy wizard this time around, his opening gold was the first of the entire Games and he returned to the mountain for a record fourth gold, making him Switzerland’s most decorated Winter Olympian in the process.
At the time, he said: “I have no words to describe the situation. It’s crazy. I tried so hard and I focused so much on my competition here. But everyone here is at their best.”