Saturday, January 30, 2010


Yolanda Gail Devers was born on Saturday, November 19, 1966 in Seattle, Washington. As a little girl, she moved to National City, California. There she attended Sweetwater High School and graduated with the class of 1984. In high school her main sport was track and field and originally she ran the 800m. Gail was heavily recruited by major universities, but decided to go to UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles). That is where she met Bob Kersee , husband and coach of famous track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee. She joined their track team where the 100-meter dash and 100-meter hurdles became her top events. She also got her Bachelor's degree in sociology. After college, Gail started her track career with the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. From that point, Gail became a huge success. She never saw herself as being a professional track runner, she always thought that she would become a teacher. Gail is indorsed by Nike and is an "I Love Lucy Addict".
Gail's first major influence was her bother Parenthesis "PD". They used to race each other all the time and PD would always beat her. After he did, he would make fun of her like the typical big brother. She decided there and then that she wan't having it. She practiced everyday and worked as hard as she could. The next time they raced she beat him and he never wanted to race her again. She decided that running was all that mattered to her. Her basic influences are everybody she runs against and herself. She is always trying to beat her records and pushes herself to do so.
Gail had severe Graves Disease from 1989-91. The disease is a sever type of hypertension. She went through migraine, vision loss, and fainting spells. No one knew what was wrong with her and she blamed her conditions on her overworking herself. When she finally was diagnosed with the disease, she had to go through radiation and take pills to make her feel better. She reacted to the radiation in a negative way, which resulted in having her feet swollen and cracked that they bled. Doctors said they would have to amputate her feet. At this point Gail felt like this was the end for her but her coach,Bob Kersee, motivated her to stay strong. He said that she had too much God-given talented to give up and she needed to realize this. Gail kept taking the medications perscribed to her and did whatever she had to do to get better. Less than 17 months after the doctors announced the amputation, she was back to training. She is still on medication to control her symptons.

Credit: Barton Silverman
The New York Times
She was a national standout in the 100m dash and 100m hurdles, breaking the American record in the 100m hurdles in 1988. 1988 was also the year that saw Gail qualify for her first of five Olympic Games as well as face her first medical challenge. While training for the 1988 Games in Seoul, her health began to deteriorate. She suffered from migraine headaches, sleeplessness, fainting spells and frequent vision loss. What should have been a shining moment for her as an athlete ended up being one of the most challenging times of her life. After a series of misdiagnoses, she was finally accurately diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition.
While it was a relief to finally know the cause, the lapsed time had led to more health problems in the preceding years. But between her “never say quit” attitude, medical treatments and dedicated rehabilitation, Gail was able to recover in time to not only qualify for the 1992 Olympic Games, but also capture her first gold medal by winning the 100m dash. She was also a favorite to win the 100m hurdles at those Games and was leading the field until falling over the final hurdle, finishing fifth. Gail continued her winning ways the next year, winning both the 100m dash and 100m hurdles at the 1993 World Championships, a feat that hadn’t been achieved in 45 years. She went on to win her second gold in the 100m dash at the 1996 Olympics where she also ran on the winning 4x100m relay.
Gail made her fourth Olympic team in 2000 where she was expected to shine. But yet again, she would face another health challenge. She had injured her right Achilles tendon and left hamstring prior to the U.S. Trials. She had recovered in time to win the 100m hurdles at the Trials in a new American record time, but the injuries resurfaced at the Games and she had to pull out of the race. Gail went on to make her fifth Olympic Games in 2004, however a calf injury suffered in training ended her Olympic hopes.
Gail continues to compete and at age 40. She won the 60m hurdles at the 2007 Millrose Games.
(Diversity City Media)

Lauryn Williams of the Miami Hurricanes leads Gail Devers of Nike and Chryste Gaines of Nike during the U.S. Olympic Team Track & Field Trials at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex on July 10, 2004 in Sacramento, California (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images Sport)

(L-R) Gail Devers, Chryste Gaines, and Torri Edwards
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport

Gail Devers looks up at the scoreboard
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport

Gail Devers (L) and Miesha McKelvy-Jones competes in the women's 100 meter hurdles quarterfinals during the U.S. Olympic Team Track & Field Trials on July 17, 2004 at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento, California (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images Sport)

Photos by Andy Lyons/Getty Images Sport

Gail Devers wins the women's 100 Meter Hurdles Final during the U.S. Olympic Team Track & Field Trials on July 18, 2004 at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento, California (Photos by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images Sport)

Gail Devers of USA is seen before the women's 100 metre semifinal on August 21, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in the Sports Complex in Athens, Greece (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Sport)

Two-time winner Devers was eliminated along with gold-medal favorite Christine Arron of France (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images Sport)

Gail Devers did not qualify for the women's 100 metre final
Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images Sport

Career Highlights :
2004 - Won 10th national championship in 100mH at US Olympic trials
- Became 3rd American athlete in history to make 5 Olympic track and field teams
- 1st American in history to win both 60m and 60mH at USATF Indoor T&F Championship
2003 - World indoor 60mH champion
- 1st place US Outdoors 100mH
- Ranked #1 in the world at 100mH
2002 - USA Outdoors 100mH champion
- Won 100mH at World Cup
- Ranked #1 in the wolrd at 100mH
2001 - Ranked #1 in the world at 100mH
- 1st place 100mH at Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia
2000 - Wins 100mH at US Olympic trails in Sacremento, CA setting a new American record (12.33)4th fastest
in event ever
1999 - USATF's Humanitarian Athlete of the Year
- World champion in 100mH in Seville, Spain (New Record: 12.37)
- Anchor on winning 4x100 at World Championships

Barcelona 1992 100m final

Atlanta 1996 100m final
Gwen Torrence, Gail Devers & Merlene Ottey
Photos from

Atlanta 1996 4x100m
Inger Miller, Gail Devers, Gwen Torrence & Chryste Gaines

Sevilla 1999

In the women's 100-meter hurdles at the 2000 Olympics, Devers was favored to finally win a medal that had eluded her for so long. But she stopped midway through her semifinal with a left hamstring tear and did not finish the race. It was the latest chapter in the hard-luck Olympic saga of Devers, who just missed out on medals at the 1992 and 1996 games.
"I don't think luck has anything to do with track and field. I think it's skill," she said. "I'd say my skills were not good enough to keep me going tonight. And that's the end of the story."
Devers has been one of the world's best hurdlers for the past decade, but has never won a medal in Olympic hurdles. All three of her gold medals at the Barcelona and Atlanta games -- including two 100-meter titles -- came in sprints.
"My aim was to make it to the final and give it my all until the leg falls off," she said. "Is this a jinx? Is this '92 all over again? No. I have the utmost faith and belief in God and my spirituality, and I know he had plans for me."
(ESPN Internet Ventures)

Budapest 2004 60m final
L-R: Kim Gevaert, Gail Devers y Yuliya Nesterenko
Photos from


Athens 2004

She had a successful 2004 indoor season, as she became the first American athlete in history to win both the 60m and 60m hurdles at a USA Indoor Track & Field Championships…she continued her gold medal streak in the World Indoors 60m clocking in 7.08 seconds, her fastest time of the year and the second-fastest time in the world in 2004. She won a silver medal in the 60m hurdles (7.78)…had a tremendous season in 2003 winning both the USA and World indoor 60m hurdles titles, and breaking her own American record in the semifinals at USA Indoors (7.74 seconds), after she had set the record earlier that season at the Millrose Games (7.78)… After years of being coached by Bobby Kersee, Devers in 2002 began coaching herself. “It’s just me, a seven-pound Pomeranian and God on the track” when she is working out. Practices start against her Pomeranian, Kaleb…she is still looking for a perfect race in which she does not hit a hurdle…unlike some hurdlers, Devers is affected by hitting the barriers – “even during my American record, I hit a hurdle. I’d like to see what happens when I have a clean race”…

Women's 60m hurdles
USA Indoor Championships 2004
Photos from

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