Evelyn Ashford, a rare five-time U.S. Olympian (1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992) who collected three consecutive gold medals in the 4x100m relay, leads the distinguished Class of 2006 that will be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Presented by Allstate during a December 8 ceremony at Chicago’s Harris Theatre. In addition to five individual Olympians, a Paralympian, an Olympic coach, veteran and team, the honorees will include a special contributor, Chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics Dick Ebersol.
Swimmer Rowdy Gaines, gymnast Shannon Miller and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi will be inducted along with fellow Olympian Bob Hayes (deceased) and Paralympian Diana Golden-Brosnihan (deceased). The members of the 1984 Men’s Gymnastics Team – Bart Conner, Tim Daggett, Mitch Gaylord, Jim Hartung, Scott Johnson, Peter Vidmar and alternate Jim Mikus – will also be honored, as will “Miracle on Ice” Coach Herb Brooks (deceased) and Olympic speedskating gold medalist Jack Shea (deceased).
The black-tie U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Presented by Allstate, a made-for-TV event for which Kleenex, United and AT& T are associate sponsors, will be attended by members of the U.S. Olympic sponsor family, local dignitaries and many Olympians and Paralympians. A nationally-televised special broadcast will air on NBC from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. ET Sunday, January 1, 2006 to enable sports fans across the United States to share with the Class of 2006 inductees their welcome to U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame status. In addition to competition footage, viewers will be treated to insights from family, friends and fellow competitors of the honored legends. Longtime sports journalist Jim Lampley will serve as master of ceremonies.
Pre-ceremony festivities will include a silent auction for which the U.S. Olympic Committee has commissioned acclaimed Los Angeles-based mixed media visual artist Robert Sturman to create unique, original portraits of the living individual Olympians in the Class of 2006 – Ashford, Gaines, Miller and Yamaguchi. Sturman has created one original image piece of each of the four honored athletes, who along with the artist will autograph the artworks. A set of prints has also been prepared for display at the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in the Visitors Center of the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Complex.
Ashford won gold in both the 100 meters and the 4×100-meter relay at Los Angeles in 1984, was the silver medalist in the 100m in 1988 at Seoul, where the sprinter again was a member of the USA’s gold medal-winning 4x100m relay, and earned her third consecutive 4x100m relay Olympic gold medal at Barcelona in 1992. Always a trailblazer, Ashford was the only girl on the boys’ track team in high school and was one of the first women to receive an athletic scholarship from UCLA.
Under the leadership of Ebersol, one of the world’s most respected figures in sports, the Olympic Games have caught the attention of the viewers (187 million watched the 2002 Winter Games) and the television industry (11 Sports Emmys awarded to NBC for its coverage from Salt Lake). One of Ebersol’s greatest achievements has been the establishment of NBC Universal as the home of the Olympic Games through 2012. Ebersol began his career while a 19-year-old college student serving as an Olympic researcher under Roone Arledge and has been involved in 18 Games telecasts.
Gaines, a two-time Olympian (1980, 1984) and 17-time national champion, swam to three gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, winning in the 100m freestyle, 400m freestyle relay and 400m medley relay. A member of USA Swimming’s “Team of the Century” and a two-time World Swimmer of the Year (1980, 1984), Gaines set 11 world records in a four-year span. In April 1980, he broke his first world record – swimming the 200-meter freestyle in Austin, Texas. That accomplishment came one day prior to the announcement that the United States would be boycotting the Moscow Olympics.
The most decorated gymnast in U.S. history, in 1992 Miller – who dislocated her elbow just four months before the Barcelona Games – became the first American to qualify for all four Olympic individual event finals. Miller went on to earn five Olympic medals that year (silver in individual all-around and balance beam; bronze in floor exercise, uneven bars and team all-around) and she added two gold medals (balance beam and team all-around) to her remarkable collection at the 1996 Atlanta Games. In her career, Miller won 58 international and 49 national medals – more than half of which were gold.
Yamaguchi won the Olympic gold in ladies singles at the 1992 Albertville Winter Games. Winner of back-to-back world titles (1991, 1992), the four-time U.S. World Team member was one of the first American women to compete in both pairs and ladies singles. At the 1988 World Junior Championships, Yamaguchi won the ladies’ title as well as earning the pairs gold medal with partner Rudy Galindo. Inspired by 1976 Olympic skating champion Dorothy Hamill, Yamaguchi started competing at the age of seven, carrying a Hamill doll with her for good luck.
Called the “World’s Fastest Human,” Hayes earned a pair of Olympic gold medals at the 1964 Tokyo Games. In addition to winning the 100 meters with a world-record-tying time, Hayes ran the anchor leg of the 4x100m relay, turning a three-meter deficit into a three-meter victory and new world record. Hayes’ relay split was a sensational 8.6. Nearly 20 years later, the Los Angeles Times called it “the most astonishing sprint of all time.” As a member of the 1972 Super Bowl-winning Dallas Cowboys, Hayes became the only athlete to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring.
Winner of 19 U.S. Disabled Alpine Championships gold medals and a 10-time World Disabled Ski Championships gold medalist, Golden-Brosnihan’s most cherished gold medal was bestowed upon her during the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary when disabled skiing was introduced as a demonstration sport and she led her teammates in a USA medal sweep in the women’s disabled slalom. And, it was Golden-Brosnihan’s participation in able-bodied events that led U.S. Skiing to establish the “Golden Rule,” enabling disabled skiers to race as early seeds in all USSA-sanctioned events.
Brooks was the architect of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team that defeated Finland to win the gold medal. However, it was the USA’s 4-3 victory over Russia in the semifinals that will forever be remembered as the “Miracle on Ice.” Himself a member of the 1964 and 1968 U.S. Olympic teams, and the last player cut from the 1960 squad that won gold, Brooks returned to coach the 2002 U.S. Olympic Men’s Team to the silver medal at the Salt Lake Winter Games.
A double-gold medalist in speedskating at the 1932 Olympic Winter Games in his hometown of Lake Placid, N.Y., Shea was selected to read the Olympic Oath during the Opening Ceremony and went on to win both the 500-meter and 1500-meter events. Four years later he chose not to defend his Olympic titles when the 1936 Winter Games were held in Germany. Shea was also the patriarch of the United States’ first three-generation Olympic family, including his son, Jim Shea Sr., a 1964 Olympian in skiing, and grandson, Jim Shea Jr., 2002 Olympic skeleton gold medalist, who like his grandfather spoke the Olympic Oath on behalf of all the competitors at Salt Lake City.
The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame was established in 1979 to celebrate the achievements of America’s premier athletes in the modern Olympic Games. The first U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame class was inducted in 1983 during ceremonies in Chicago. That Charter Class, which included Olympic greats Jesse Owens, Jim Thorpe and Muhammad Ali, remains the largest group (20 individuals and one team) ever inducted. In 2004, after a 12-year hiatus, the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame was revived through the support of the Allstate Insurance Company as the presenting sponsor.
To date, 182 athletes (including six U.S. teams) and special contributors to the U.S. Olympic Movement have been enshrined. From the Charter Class of 1983 to the 2004 inductees, Hall members represent an American honor roll of athletic ambassadors to the ideals of brotherhood and fair play. The Class of 2006 inductees continue that tradition.
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