After Olympic fame, four gold medals and three world records, Johann finally found something he was really good at.
When Olympic Aid first sent Johann Olav Koss to Eritrea in the fall of 1993, he didn't like what he saw. In the little country that had just been liberated from
Ethiopia, children weren't able to be children. They tried to play, but blown-out war tanks got in their way. When they found a patch of dirt, they played soccer with nothing more than a rolled-up long sleeve shirt.
Johann wanted to help, and with the Olympic Games quickly approaching, he devised a plan. A plan that would use any time he might have in the spotlight to publicize the plight of the children, and Olympic Aid's mission to help them.
Johann had two things going for him. The Olympics were going to be in his home country of Norway, and it just so happened that Johann could skate really, really fast.
A few months later, stunned spectators watched as he did more than just win the 1,500- , 5,000- and 10,000-metre races. He set world records in all of them. Then the cameras began to swarm. The interviews began to happen. And Johann began to talk.
A little about himself, a lot about the children.
Olympic Aid went on to raise over 18 million US dollars, and Johann was ready to return to Eritrea. When he got there, he found the same group of kids he had met on his first visit and gave them a brand new soccer ball. Upon seeing their smiles, Johann realized he had a new career.
To this day, Johann and other Olympic athletes travel the world for Olympic Aid, raising money and helping children. Johann hasn't changed much. When asked about his Olympic endeavours, he soon changes the subject back to the children and his next mission. He knows the job won't be finished until everyone believes in Olympic Aid's motto: "Every child has the right to play."