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Speed skating-American Davis eyeing 2018 not retirement

Dec 31, 2013; Kearns, UT, USA; First place finisher Shani Davis after he competes in the men's 1500m during the U.S. Olympic speedskating tr
Dec 31, 2013; Kearns, UT, USA; First place finisher Shani Davis after he competes in the men's 1500m during the U.S. Olympic speedskating tr

By Patrick Johnston

(Reuters) - Reigning 1,000 meter Olympic speed skating champion Shani Davis has dismissed reports he is set to retire after next month's Sochi Games and hinted at competing in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018.

The 31-year-old American, the first black athlete to win an individual Winter Olympics gold medal, will try to claim his third straight 1,000m title in Russia and said his love of competition suggested he had more years left in the sport.

"I'm as hungry to compete and win now as I've ever been, maybe even more so," Davis told Reuters via email.

"There are still many records and milestones I'd like to achieve, in Sochi and beyond, and I'll keep competing so long as the desire is there.

"Training for speed skating is exhausting, mentally and physically, but the wisdom of age and experience enables me to adapt my training to my circumstances.

"Funny, I keep reading in the media that Sochi is my last Olympics. That might be more dramatic for storylines, but I wouldn't say that at all. Maybe Sochi will be my last Olympics and maybe it won't."

The Chicago-born Davis heads to Russia also attempting to add to his two 1500m silver medals that he won at the Turin and Vancouver Games.

He is in strong form having won three of the four 1000m World Cup races this season and was victorious at the U.S. Trials in Salt Lake City last month, winning both the 1,000 and 1,500 titles and also qualifying for the 500m.

While his focus is on February 8 - the start date of the speed skating competition at the Adler Arena in the Black Sea resort - the lure of competing in one of the sport's hotbeds might be hard to resist.

"As a speedskater, Pyeongchang will be a special Olympics, since our sport is revered so much there," he said.

"Bottom line, my desire and body will be the determining factors, and right now those are as strong as ever."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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