Hall of Fame

Gail Devers

Track and Field

Olympian in Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Athens 2004 Olympic Games

Born:
November 19, 1966
Birthplace:
Seattle, Washington
Hometown:
National City, California
College:
UCLA

hall of fame

Gail Devers

Track and Field

Olympian in Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Athens 2004 Olympic Games

Born:
November 19, 1966
Birthplace:
Seattle, Washington
Hometown:
National City, California
College:
UCLA
Photo courtesy International Olympic Committee
Diagnosed with Graves’ disease, sprinter Gail Devers nearly needed her feet amputated. But she recovered to win three gold medals and competed in five Olympic Games.
SHARE

Having already set an American record in the 100-meter hurdles and qualified for the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team, Gail Devers was set to make her mark on the world stage.

But when she arrived in Seoul for The Olympics, Gail Devers didn’t feel right. And her times were way off, she was eliminated in the semifinals and returned home to figure out what went wrong.

Her hair, normally curly and flowing, was falling out. Known for her excessively long fingernails – the result of a childhood bet from her father to get her to stop biting her nails – her nails kept breaking and would not grow. Her skin was splotchy and felt like it was sagging. She lost a considerable amount of weight.

It took more than two years for doctors to diagnose the problem: Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes an overactive thyroid. It was treatable with radiation, but that caused more problems. Large blisters developed on her foot and walking was difficult. Devers was rushed to the hospital and doctors discussed amputating her feet.

Devers eventually recovered and set her mind on returning to the track. She qualified for the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, where she took gold in the 100-meter dash in a photo finish, but hit the final hurdle in her favorite event, the 100-meter hurdles, and finished fifth.

Four years later, at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, she repeated as the gold medalist in the 100-meter dash and added a gold in the 4×100-meter relay. She placed fourth in the 100-meter hurdles. Devers went on to compete in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

“In my race, there’s 10 hurdles, but in life, there is always a hurdle,” Devers said in a 2013 interview. “There is always something you gotta get over, and it’s what you do, you know? Sometimes we fall, sometimes we stumble, but we can’t stay down. We can’t allow life to beat us down. Everything happens for a reason, and it builds character in us, and it tells us what we are about and how strong we really are when we didn’t think we could be that strong.”



MEDAL RESULTS
1992 Barcelona 100m Dash Gold
1996 Atlanta 100m Dash Gold
1996 Atlanta 4x100m Relay Gold
RELATED GALLERY
  • Sint excepteur
connect with us
NEXT UP
  • SPORT: 
  • Swimming
  • BORN: 06.29.1985
  • Little Rock, Arkansas
Swimmer Erin Popovich is a three-time Paralympian; 14 of her 19 Paralympic medals were golds. She is a two-time winner of the ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete with a Disability.
  • SPORT: 
  • Volleyball
  • BORN: 07.30.1977
  • Los Angeles, California
Misty May-Treanor was a college star at indoor volleyball, then successfully transitioned to one of the best beach volleyball careers of all-time, teaming with Kerri Walsh Jennings to win three Olympic gold medals and retiring with a then-record 112 wins.
  • SPORT: 
  • Track and Field
  • BORN: 06.06.1944
  • Clarksville, Texas
Tommie Smith's courage to protest for racial equality continues to be remembered throughout the sports landscape.
  • SPORT: 
  • Track and Field
  • BORN: 06.05.1945
  • Harlem, New York
John Carlos and Tommie Smith's protest for racial equality has echoed throughout the sports world since the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games.
Skip to content