Terry McDermott was the only gold medallist from the United States at the 1964 Innsbruck Winter Olympics©US Speedskating

United States Speed Skating (USSS) have paid tribute to 1964 Olympic gold medallist Terry McDermott as "one of our all time greats" on his death at the age of 82.

McDermott was a three time Olympian and won 500 metres speed skating gold at the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck.

"Terry had a massive impact on our sport," USSS said on social media. 

"Our thoughts are with those that Terry inspired over his many decades in our sport."

Using skates borrowed from his coach, McDermott had posted an Olympic record time of 40.1sec to win the gold medal at Innsbruck 1964, ending the reign of the Soviet Union's Yevgeny Grishin, who had not been beaten since before the Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956 at the distance.

"The Cold War was going on and it carried over into the Olympics," McDermott told MLive Media Group in 2010.

"The Russians came along in ’56 and dominated every sport, it was awful hard to beat them in anything, so going against them, you tried a little harder."

McDermott made his Olympic debut at the 1960 Games in Squaw Valley where he had finished equal seventh.

He came from Essexville Michigan and was known as the "Essexville Rocket,"

Before Innsbruck 1964, he began to work as a barber in his uncle's shop, which led to his nickname being adapted to the "Essexville Barber" in 1964.

After winning the Olympic gold medal, he flew home early from Innsbruck to make an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

It drew the highest ratings for any television programme in the US up to that point, because his fellow guests included The Beatles.

"I was told they were a famous rock band from England and this was their first appearance in our country, I guess that was huge, people were going wild," Mc Dermott said.

He was invited to meet the group and famously clipped a lock of Paul McCartney’s hair.

“We didn’t really know of them at the time, but we definitely followed them the rest of their careers," McDermott added.

"Who didn’t?” 

McDermott returned to the Olympic ice at Grenoble in 1968 and also carried the flag for the United States team at the Opening Ceremony.

Drawn to complete late when the condition of the ice was deteriorating because of the hot sun, he still posted a time of 40.5 which gave him a share of the silver medal with Magne Thomassen of Norway.

His time was only two tenths of a second outside the gold medal.

"If he had started in the earlier heats while the ice was still good, I’d have lost, it’s as simple as that,” gold medallist Erhard Keller of West Germany admitted.

After his competitive career, McDermott worked as a representative in the motor industry but also started a Champion Plastics with Virginia, his wife of 59 years.

They had five children and 11 grandchildren.

McDermott remained connected to speed skating as a official.

He had earlier been inducted into the United States Speedskating Hall of Fame in 1977 and was chosen to recite the Olympic Oath on behalf of his fellow judges at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid.

McDermott's family have requested that donations be made to the USSS Foundation in his memory.

"I always had great admiration for Terry,” USSS head coach Ryan Shimabukuro told Associated Press

"His legacy both on and off the ice will continue for US speedskating and our sport, he wanted to give back after his skating career was over and he did that for decades."