In 1984, at age 14, Derek began roller skating in his hometown of San Bernardino, CA. By 1996 he had become the most decorated athlete in the history of the sport. On wheels he was a three-time national champion, two-time overall World Champion, two-time World Record Holder and he earned eighteen individual World Championship gold medals. He was the most decorated athlete at 1995 Pan-Am Games winning 5 gold, 2 silver and a bronze medal. He had everything but an Olympic Medal. So in 1996, he switched from inline skates to ice skates to chase his Olympic dream. Just two years later he earned a spot on the 1998 US Olympic Team.
In February of 2001, a year before the Olympics, Derek won a silver medal at the World Single Distance Championships setting a new American Record and marking himself as "one to watch at the 2002 Olympic Games". In 2002 he picked up just where he left off. In late November he won a gold medal at the World Cup competition in Den Hague,
Netherlands and became one of America's foremost medal contenders heading into the Olympics. In Salt Lake City he did not disappoint. In a remarkable 5000 meter performance on opening day of the Games he briefly held the world record en route to a silver medal finish. That set the stage for a stunning world record finish and Olympic Gold Medal in the 1500 meter event.
Derek is the first Mexican-American in history to win a medal at the Olympic Winter Games and since doing so he has been widely recognized by the Latino community. He has been honored by the Hispanic Heritage Awards, the American Latino Media Arts Awards, the National Hispanic Press
Foundation, the National Council of LaRaza, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the US Hispanic Leadership Institute and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. He was named one of Hispanic Business Magazine's 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the United States and recognized by Hispanic Magazine as Sportsman of the Year.
Since retiring from competition in 2006 Derek has remained active in the sport as a coach and administrator. He is an extremely experienced and talented professional speaker and has turned his story into an award winning book, “Reflections in the Ice – Inside the Heart and Mind of an Olympic Champion.” Derek is the father of one daughter and resides on Salt Lake City, UT.