By US Daily Review Staff.
Fans of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sport have let their voices be heard. The United States Olympic Committee and Allstate Insurance Company today announced the members of the Class of 2012 who will be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate during a press conference at the Team USA Media Summit inDallas. The Class of 2012, partially determined by fan voting, is comprised of six Olympians, one Paralympian, one team, as well as three additional individuals: a coach, veteran and a special contributor.
The list of inductees includes Gail Devers (track & field), Jean Driscoll (Paralympic track & field), Gary Hall, Jr. (swimming), Lisa Fernandez (softball), Kristine Lilly (soccer), Dan O’Brien (track & field), Jenny Thompson (swimming), the 2004 U.S. Olympic Women’s Softball Team, Ed Temple (coach – track & field), James Connolly (veteran – track & field) and Ted Stevens (special contributor).
“Over the years, these men and women captured our hearts and inspired us as Americans to strive for greatness, paving the way for today’s Olympians and Paralympians who will soon compete in this summer’s London Games,” said Lisa Cochrane, senior vice president of marketing for Allstate. “Allstate is proud to support such a prestigious, lifetime achievement and extends its gratitude to the fans for their role in determining the very deserving U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2012.”
The Class of 2012 was determined by a voting process that includes Olympians, Paralympians, members of the Olympic Family and a public voting element. The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate is one of the only national sports halls of fame that includes fan voting as part of its selection process. This year more than 100,000 votes were cast at TeamUSA.org.
“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 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.
“I am completely overwhelmed by this honor,” said Lisa Fernandez, a three-time Olympic gold medalist. “I never thought that playing the game of softball that I love so much would allow me to reach this level of accomplishment. This is bigger than anything I have dreamed of. What we have been able to achieve as a sport is incredible, and there is no greater honor than being inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.”
In addition to the introduction of the aforementioned athletes, coaches and contributors, the Olive Branch Achievement Award – created to honor an individual who best represents the international ideals of the Olympic Movement by working to build a peaceful and better world through sport – will be introduced and presented at the induction ceremony.
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. Additional event details, including media access and registration information, will be available soon.
About the USOC
Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., the U.S. Olympic Committee serves as both the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States. As such, the USOC is responsible for the training, entering and funding of U.S. teams for the Olympic, Paralympic, Youth Olympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games, while serving as a steward of the Olympic and Paralympic Movements throughout the country. For more information, visit TeamUSA.org.
The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, serving approximately 16 million households through its Allstate, Encompass, Esurance and Answer Financial brand names. Widely known by its slogan “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate®,” Allstate offers insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives, as well as viawww.allstate.com and 1-800 Allstate®. As part of Allstate’s commitment to strengthen local communities, The Allstate Foundation, Allstate employees, agency owners and the corporation provided $28 million in 2011 to thousands of nonprofit organizations and important causes across the United States.
The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame – Class of 2012 and Special Inductees
Gail Devers – Track & Field
Gail Devers is a five-time Olympian, three-time gold medalist and one of only two women to win back-to-back titles in the 100 meters at the Olympic Games. Devers, a three-time world champion and four-time world indoor champion, still holds the current American records in three events.
One of the great 100-meter sprinters and hurdlers in track and field history, Devers was a two-time gold medalist at the 1987 Pan American Games before making her first Olympic team in 1988, the same year she set an American record as a national champion. Devers did not compete from 1988-1990 as she faced a career-threatening battle with Graves disease.
When Devers reentered Olympic competition, she upset the field by winning the 100 meters at the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1993 and 1995, Devers earned her first two world championships before becoming the second woman to defend her Olympic gold-medal title at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Kristine Lily – Soccer
Kristine Lilly is a three-time Olympian who solidified her legacy as one of the greatest female soccer players of all time. With one silver and two gold medals, including the first ever offered for women’s soccer in 1996, Lilly started every Olympic match of her career and played all but 22 minutes in Olympic competition.
Lily assisted the first goal in the 1996 gold-medal victory over China and scored four goals during her Olympic Games experience, including a hat trick at the 2004 Athens Games against Greece. She captained the U.S. Women’s National Team from 2005-07 and was at the center of every key U.S. win in the first three Olympic Games featuring women’s soccer.
Second only to Mia Hamm, Lilly tallied 130 career goals and was named the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year in 1993, 2005 and 2006.
Gary Hall Jr. – Swimming
Champion swimmer Gary Hall, Jr. followed in the footsteps of his famous father, competing in three Olympic Games and earning 10 Olympic medals, including five gold medals.
Hall Jr. was a two-time Olympic gold and silver medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Games before he was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 1999. He set an American record in the 50 meter freestyle at 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials before winning back-to-back gold medals in Sydney and Athens. Hall was also a three-time member of the gold-medal winning men’s 400-meter freestyle relay team.
Out of the pool, Hall has been an advocate for diabetes research and serves as the spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association.
Lisa Fernandez – Softball
Lisa Fernandez is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, four-time All-American and is considered one of the most versatile softball players of all time. During her three Olympic Games, USA Softball went 23-4 and Fernandez went 7-2 as a pitcher. She maintained a .333 batting average and currently holds four Olympic records.
At the 1996 Atlanta Games, Fernandez pitched a near-perfect performance against Australia before earning the save and a U.S. victory over China in the gold-medal game. Fernandez went 2-1 at the Sydney Games in 2000, earning her second gold medal and etching her name in the Olympic record books with the most strikeouts in an Olympic softball game (25) and the fewest runs allowed (two runs in 29.2 innings).
At age 33, Fernandez exploded at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. She rewrote the Olympic record books both from the plate and from the circle, setting the current Olympic record for best batting average at .545. She set a new mark for most Olympic doubles, contributed eight RBI’s, tallied a 4-0 record as a pitcher and sealed the U.S. gold medal with a 5-1 win over Australia.
Fernandez’s dominance in the 2004 Olympic Games earned her the distinction of USA Softball’s Player of the Year and the 2004 ESPY for Best Female Olympic Performance.
Dan O’Brien – Track & Field, Decathlon
Dan O’Brien is a celebrated decathlete and he proved to be one of the most dominating athletes of his era. Not only did O’Brien win Olympic gold in the 1996 decathlon, but he remains the current record holder in that event.
O’Brien claimed five U.S. national 10-event titles and his 1996 Olympic gold medal was his 11th consecutive decathlon win – a streak that started in September of 1992. After O’Brien missed qualifying for the 1992 Olympic Games, he broke his previous world and existing American record with 8,891 points during a meet in Talence, France.
O’Brien is a three-time world decathlon champion (1991, 1993 and 1995) and earned six of Track & Field News’ year-end world number one rankings. O’Brien also finished in the top 10 of T&FN’s World Athlete of the Year rankings four times during his career.
Jenny Thompson – Swimming
During a record-setting Olympic career, Jennifer (Jenny) Thompson amassed an incredible 12 medals – including eight gold medals – a mark that still stands as the most for a female Olympic swimmer in history.
Thompson made her first appearance on the international scene at age 14, winning the 50-meter freestyle and placing third in the 100-meter freestyle at the 1987 Pan American Games. She won her first world championship in 1991 as part of TeamUSA’s winning 4×100-meter freestyle relay team, and broke the world record in the 50 and 100 meters in the 1992 Olympic Games. Thompson won two gold medals as part of the 4×100-meter freestyle and 4×100-meter medley teams.
Between 1997 and 1999, Thompson won eight more world championship titles, including three in a row in the 100-meter freestyle. In the 2000 Olympic Games, Thompson and her 4×100-meter freestyle and medley teams set new world records. That same year, she also broke the world record in the 100-meter butterfly for the fourth time.
At age 31, Thompson was the oldest member of the 2004 U.S. Swimming Team, when she competed in her fourth Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. She anchored the 400-meter freestyle relay team that set a national record of 3:36.39 and earned a silver medal.
In 2006, she received a medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Jean Driscoll – Paralympic Track & Field
Jean Driscoll is a three-time Paralympian who was born with spina bifida (or, an open spine), a condition that not only affected her ability to walk but also caused some neurological complications.
Driscoll began using a wheelchair at age 15 and started pursuing athletic opportunities soon after. By the end of her career, she won two Olympic medals, 12 Paralympic medals and holds the world record in the 10,000-meter (6.2 mile) track event.
Jean retired from her successful racing career following the 2000 Paralympic Games and was inducted into the USAWheelchair Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
2004 U.S. Olympic Women’s Softball Team
The 2004 U.S. Olympic Women’s Softball Team, coined the “Real Dream Team” on the cover of Sports Illustrated, will go down in history as one of the most dominant teams in Olympic history. With a perfect 9-0 record and a string of eight consecutive shutouts, this team lived up to the hype. In 2004, the team outscored its opponents 51-1 in nine games in Athens and did not allow a run until the sixth inning of the gold medal game against Australia.
Head coach: Mike Candrea
Assistant coach: Ken Eriksen
Assistant coach: John Rittman
Ed Temple – Coach, Track & Field
During the 1950s and 60s, Ed Temple became one of the greatest coaches in Olympic history and helped establish the U.S. as a women’s sprinting powerhouse. He served as head coach of two U.S. Olympic teams (1960 and 1964), during which time his athletes brought home 23 Olympic medals (13 gold, six silver and four bronze).
Temple’s 44-year coaching tenure at Tennessee State University saw him coach and mentor some of the greatest athletes in Olympic history, including Wyomia Tyus, Wilma Rudolph and Willie White. Rudolph was the first American woman of any race to win three track & field gold medals at a single Olympic Games, while Tyus was the first woman to successfully defend an Olympic 100-meter gold medal.
For Temple’s athletes, a gold medal was only the start. The impact Temple had on his young female athletes stretched far beyond the track. Among the 40 Olympians he coached (35 of whom represented the U.S.), 28 of them have master’s degrees and 14 of them have either an M.D. or Ph.D.
In addition to his 24 national titles, Temple has numerous other accolades, and is a member of the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, Helms Hall of Fame, Tennessee State University Hall of Fame, Harrisburg Central Area Chapter Hall of Fame, Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame, Black Athletes Hall of Fame and Communiplex National Sports Hall of Fame.
James Connolly – Veteran, Track & Field
The first modern Olympic champion, James Connolly is a four-time Olympic medalist who participated in both the 1896 and 1900 Olympic Games. In 1896, Connolly outsoared his nearest opponent by more than one meter in the triple jump, earning gold in the event. He also took home a silver medal in the high jump and bronze medal in the long jump. Four years later, he jumped to a silver-medal finish in the triple jump.
Before making an appearance at the inaugural modern Olympic Games in Athens, Connolly was a student at Harvard University. While most colleges and universities today would be thrilled to have one of their athletes competing in the Olympic Games, Connolly wasn’t so fortunate and he was told he couldn’t return to school if he left to compete in Athens.
Although he clinched three Olympic medals in 1896, Connolly didn’t return to Harvard until 50 years later, not as a graduate, but as a successful writer invited to speak before the Harvard union. In 1948, the Olympian and writer of 25 novels and more than 200 short stories received an honorary athletic sweater from Harvard.
Ted Stevens – Special Contributor
United States Senator Ted Stevens is widely regarded as one of the great champions of the Olympic Movement in the U.S. His commitment saw him lead the charge to pass the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, appointing the U.S. Olympic Committee as the coordinating body for all Olympic-related athletic activity in the United States.
The act which, would eventual be renamed in his honor as the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, not only protected athletes and centralized control of sports in the U.S., it also propelled the creation of national governing bodies, which serve as independently run organizations that funnel Olympic-caliber athletes into the movement. Stevens was also known as a proponent of Title IX, a legislation that gave women equal opportunities to participate in sports in the United States.
A graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, Stevens served as the U.S. Attorney in Fairbanks, Alaska. He also practiced law in Anchorage and Fairbanks, and served two terms as a representative in the Alaska State Legislature, holding positions of majority leader and speaker pro-tem. In 1999, Stevens was recognized for his dedication to the Olympic and Paralympic movement when he received a USOC Honorary Coach of the Year award.