COLORADO SPRINGS – Current National Track & Field Hall of Famers Valerie Brisco, Gail Devers and Dan O’Brien have been named as nominees for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced Monday. Fans are eligible to vote for their favorites of the 18 Olympic athletes, five Paralympic athletes and five teams nominated beginning today and running through April 9 by going to www.TeamUSA.org/halloffame.
Brisco was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1995, O’Brien received induction in 2006 and Devers was a member of the recent class to be inducted in 2011 in St. Louis. The three have combined to win a total of seven Olympic gold medals.
More than a decade before Michael Johnson galvanized world attention with his 200m/400m doubles, Valerie Brisco became the first person to perform that feat in the Olympics. Her stage was ideal: the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, just miles from her home at that time. She set American records in both individual events, running 21.81 in the 200m and 48.83 in the 400m. She won her third gold medal that year when she anchored the U.S. 4x400m relay team that set an American record with its time of 3:18.28. In 1988, Brisco won her fourth Olympic medal when she ran the third leg on the 4x400m relay team that broke the world record but finished second to the USSR team. Her previous running career barely hinted at her true abilities. She won the 1979 AIAW 200m championship while a student at California State-Northridge and was on the 4x100m relay team that won a gold medal at the Pan American Games. After marrying and giving birth to a child, she put her running career on hold. She finally underwent a rigorous training program in time to emerge as a superstar in 1984, winning the national indoor 200 and outdoor 400 titles that year. She became the first American woman to break 50 seconds in the 400 meters with her time of 49.83. In 1985, she set an indoor world record of 52.99 in the 400-yard run, and she was the national champion in the outdoor 400m in 1986. In 1987, she won a relay gold medal at the Pan American Games and a bronze medal as a member of the 4x400m relay at the World Outdoor Championships.
The career of Gail Devers was one of perseverance and dominance in women’s track and field. 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, Devers 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. 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.
One of the finest decathletes the world has ever known, O'Brien is tied for the most U.S. national 10-event titles ever with five. O'Brien captured his own Olympic gold medal 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 the year of 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.
The public will be able to vote once per day, per category, through April 9. Once voting closes, the total number of fan votes will be added to the total votes from Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls in their training and competition to determine the 2012 Hall of Fame class. The 2012 class will be announced in May and an induction ceremony will be held on July 12 at the Harris Theater in Chicago.