Gail Devers

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Gail Devers
Gail Devers during her induction to the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, 2011
Personal information
Full nameYolanda Gail Devers
BornNovember 19, 1966 (1966-11-19) (age 54) [1]
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Height5 ft 3 in (160 cm) [1]
Weight121 lb (55 kg) [1]
Event(s)Hurdles, Sprints
College team University of California, Los Angeles

Yolanda Gail Devers ( /ˈdvərz/ DEE-vərz; [2] born November 19, 1966) is an American retired track and field athlete. A two-time Olympic champion in the 100 meters for the USA, her 1996 win made her only the second woman (after Wyomia Tyus) to successfully defend an Olympic 100m title. She won a third Olympic gold medal in the 4 × 100 m relay in 1996. She is also the 1993 World champion in the 100m and a three-time World champion in the 100m hurdles. In 2011, she was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.


Life and career

Devers was born in Seattle, Washington, and grew up near National City, California, graduating from Sweetwater High School in 1984. [1] (Sweetwater's football and track stadium would later be named Gail Devers Stadium.) A young talent in the 100 m and 100 m hurdles, Devers was in training for the 1988 Summer Olympics, started experiencing health problems, suffering from among others migraine and vision loss. She qualified for the Olympics 100 m hurdles, in which she was eliminated in the semi-finals, but her health continued to deteriorate even further.

Devers started in 800m in high school and ran a pb of 2:08. [3]

In 1990, she was diagnosed with Graves' disease and underwent radioactive iodine treatment followed by thyroid hormone replacement therapy. During her radiation treatment, Devers began to develop blistering and swelling of her feet. Eventually, the sprinter could barely walk and had to crawl and or be carried. A doctor considered amputating her feet. Amazingly, Devers recovered after the radiation treatment was discontinued, and she resumed training. At the 1991 World Championships, she won a silver medal in the 100 m hurdles.

At the 1992 Summer Olympics, Devers starred. She qualified for the final of the 100 m, which ended in an exciting finish, with five women finishing close (within 0.06 seconds). The photo finish showed Devers had narrowly beaten Jamaican Juliet Cuthbert. In the final of the 100 m hurdles, Devers' lead event, she seemed to be running towards a second gold medal, when she hit the final hurdle and stumbled over the finish line in fifth place, leaving Voula Patoulidou from Greece as the upset winner.

In 1993, Devers won the 1993 World Championships in Athletics 100 m title after - again - a photo finish win over Merlene Ottey in an apparent dead heat, and the 100 m hurdles title. She retained her hurdles title in 1995.

The 100 m final at the 1996 Summer Olympics was an almost exact repeat of the World Championships final three years before. Ottey and Devers again finished in the same time and did not know who had won the race. Again, both were awarded the same time of 10.94 seconds, but Devers was judged to have finished first and became the first woman to retain the Olympic 100 m title since Wyomia Tyus. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce duplicated the feat in 2012. In the final of her favorite event, Devers again failed, as she finished fourth and outside of the medals. With the 4 × 100 m relay team, Devers won her third Olympic gold medal.

After these Olympics, Devers concentrated on the hurdles event, winning the World Championship again in 1999, but she had to forfeit for the semi-finals at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Devers competed in the 100 m and 100 m hurdles at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, her fifth Olympic Games. [4]

Devers left competition in 2005 to give birth to a child with her husband and returned in 2006.

On February 2, 2007, at the age of 40, Devers edged 2004 Olympic champion Joanna Hayes to win the 60 m hurdles event at the Millrose Games in 7.86 seconds - the best time in the world that season and just 0.12 off the record she set in 2003. Furthermore, the time bettered the listed World Record for a 40-year-old by almost 7 tenths of a second. [5]

During her career, Devers was notable for having exceptionally long, heavily decorated fingernails. One of the fastest starters in the world, Devers even had to alter her starting position to accommodate her long nails. [6] Her long nails came as the result of a contest her father devised to get her to stop biting her nails as a child. [7]

Devers' brother was IFBB Professional Bodybuilder Parenthesis "PD" Devers.

Achievements and recognition

In 2011, she was elected into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. The following year she was elected into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. [8] In November 2012, Devers was announced as a 2013 recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, presented annually to six distinguished former college student-athletes on the 25th anniversary of the end of their college sports careers. [9]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Gail Devers". USA Track & Field. Archived from the original on 4 May 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  2. "Say How? A Pronunciation Guide to Names of Public Figures: D – Library of Congress". Archived from the original on 2017-08-02. Retrieved 2017-08-02.
  3. "Athletics LLC EP35: Gail Devers" . Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-12-05. Retrieved 2010-02-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) WMA World Indoor Record
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-12-28. Retrieved 2020-03-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2019-11-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. "NCAA announces Silver Anniversary Award winners" (Press release). NCAA. November 8, 2012. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Evelyn Ashford
Marion Jones
Women's Track & Field ESPY Award
Succeeded by
Gwen Torrence
Not awarded
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ludmila Engquist
Glory Alozie
Anjanette Kirkland
Women's 100m Hurdles Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Tatyana Reshetnykova & Svetla Dimitrova
Anjanette Kirkland
Joanna Hayes