U.S. Olympic Track Gold Medalist
Born November 19, 1966
Gail Devers is one of the fastest women combination sprinter/hurdlers in US history, who won gold medals in the 100 meter sprint at both the ’92 and ’96 Olympics.
Born in Seattle, Washington, and later relocating to California, Gail was a talented athlete throughout her youth, and carried her great athleticism into high school where she received many accolades during her time running track and field.
After high school, Devers committed to the University of California on a track and field scholarship and began training with her coach Bob Kersee – who was the future husband of Olympic star Jackie-Joyner Kersee. She was the first female athlete from her high school to earn an athletic scholarship from a major University.
Graduating from Cal in 1988, Devers married Ron Roberts – the captain of the UCLA men’s track team, and began her training for the 1988 Summer Olympics.
However, during her training, her health began to deteriorate, and although she still competed at the Olympics, two years later she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease – an ailment of the thyroid gland. Her illness became so bad, that Gail’s feet swelled to the point where her doctors contemplated amputation. Despite her circumstances, though, she opted for radiation treatments, rather than take a medication which was on the Olympic banned medications list – never giving up her dream of returning to the Olympics one day.
In 1991, Devers’ health began to turn around and she returned to the track in socks – as her feet were still too tender to don shoes. Shortly after, she made her triumphant return to the Olympics – winning the gold medal in the 100 meters at the ’92 games, which was less than seventeen months after her doctors almost amputated her feet.
Four years later, Devers went back to the Olympics and won another gold medal – giving her two to end her career. She married Olympic gold medalist Kenny Harrison shortly after the games, and then after a return to the Olympics in 2000 was cut short due to injury – her career was over.
“My life is a blessing every day that I get up,” Devers has said. “God saved my feet. How am I not going to use them?”
Alex Brasky is the creator of local sports website www.bataviasbest.org.