Four track and field greats are among the 10 individuals and one team to be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate Class of 2012.
Olympic gold medalists Gail Devers, Dan O’Brien and James Connolly and coach Ed Temple are among those to be inducted as members of the 15th class. Also selected into the Olympic Hall of Fame were Jean Driscoll (Paralympic track & field), Gary Hall, Jr. (swimming), Lisa Fernandez (softball), Kristine Lilly (soccer), Jenny Thompson (swimming), the 2004 U.S. Olympic women’s softball team and Ted Stevens (special contributor). The Class of 2012 will be inducted into the Hall of Fame July 12 in Chicago.
“The Class of 2012 inductees have provided fans of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams with countless inspiring moments, and it’s an honor to welcome them to the U.S Olympic Hall of Fame, where both their achievements and impact will be celebrated,” said Scott Blackmun, USOC Chief Executive Officer. “Together with Allstate and fans of Team USA, we congratulate them on their accomplishments and thank them for their commitment to the Olympic and Paralympic movements.”
The career of Gail Devers was one of perseverance and dominance in women’s track and field. With a career that saw her compete until the age of 40, Devers is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and 13-time World Indoor and Outdoor medalist. In 1991, near the beginning of her career, she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease and began radiation treatment as doctors threatened to amputate her feet. Devers recovered to become one of the most dominant sprinters and hurdlers of her time. The 1992 and 1996 Olympic gold medalist in the 100 meters, she was the first woman since Wyomia Tyus to successfully defend the dash. At the World Outdoor Championships she won three gold medals in the 100m hurdles (‘93, ‘95, ‘99) along with a gold medal in the 100m in 1993 and 4x100m in 1997. She won World Indoor Championships gold three times in the 60m (‘93, ‘97, ‘04) and one in the 60m hurdles (‘03). In 2007, at the age of 40, Devers won the 60m hurdles at the Millrose Games in 7.86 seconds, which was the fastest time in the world that year. A 10-time USA outdoor 100m hurdles champion, she is a two-time winner of the ESPY for Women’s Track & Field Athlete of the Year. She was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2011.
One of the decathlon’s most celebrated athletes, O’Brien is an Olympic gold medalist, former world record holder and the most highly ranked decathlete of his generation. A five-time U.S. champion, O’Brien won Olympic gold at the 1996 Games in Atlanta with 8,824 points for his 11th consecutive decathlon win since September 1992. He avenged a no-height performance in the pole vault at the 1992 Olympic Trials – which kept him off the U.S. Olympic team – to set the then world (and existing American) record later in 1992 with 8,891 points in Talence, France, bettering his previous WR of 8,812 set in 1991. The world decathlon champion in 1991, 1993 and 1995, O’Brien earned the year-end world #1 ranking from Track & Field News on six occasions and finished in the top ten of T&FN’s World Athlete of the Year voting four times during his career. He was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2006.
Connolly will forever be known as the first gold medalist of the modern Olympic Games. His gold medal in the triple jump at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens was the first of four Olympic medals Connolly would win. He claimed silver in the high jump and bronze in the long jump in Athens as well before winning silver in the triple jump at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris.
A 1989 inductee of the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, Temple and his athletes redefined women’s sprinting. In 1953 he became head women’s coach at Tennessee State University and gave the team the name “Tigerbelles.” Under his tutelage, Tigerbelle athletes won 23 Olympic medals, 13 of them gold. His Olympic championships included Wilma Rudolph, Mae Faggs, Wyomia Tyus, Edith McGuire and Madeline Manning Mims, who all belong to the National Track & Field Hall of Fame. Temple served as the head coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s team in both 1960 and 1964 and was an assistant coach in 1980. He was also head women’s coach for the 1958 and 1959 dual meets between the USA and the USSR, and was also head women’s coach at the 1959 and 1975 Pan-American Games.
About the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame
Determined by members of the Olympic Family and through a fan voting process, the Class of 2012 is the 15th class to be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate and will bring the total membership to 96 Olympians, five Paralympians, 10 teams, four coaches, 10 veterans, 16 contributors and two Olive Branch award inductees.
The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2012 will be formally introduced and honored on July 12 during an awards ceremony at the Harris Theater in Chicago. The ceremony, hosted by Jimmy Roberts and Alex Flanagan, will air in a nationally-televised broadcast on NBC Sports Network on August 24 at 7 p.m. ET.