Gail Devers’ Olympic journey was not without the odd setback | Strangest Moments

Gail Devers’ Olympic journey was not without the odd setback | Strangest Moments

The pressure of the Olympic
Games can do funny things to
people. Athletes who have dominated
their event for years can find themselves being
blinded by the bright lights of the biggest stage in sport. Being an Olympic champion isn’t
just about being a gifted athlete and a great competitor,
it’s about holding your nerve. There are eight women
lined up in Barcelona for the start of 1992’s
100 metres hurdles final. But one of them was attracting
a lot more attention than the others. Although the reigning
Olympic champion and world record holder Yordanka Donkova of Bulgaria was through to the final, the world was developing
an obsession with the young American
named Gail Devers. It was a fascination that would last a decade and feature as many desperate
lows as dizzying highs. In 1992, the 25-year-old
from Seattle was a specialist hurdler, but had dazzled the Spanish
crowds on the first Saturday of the track-and-field
programme. She raced to gold in the 100
metres, upsetting the form book to win one of the closest
finals in Olympic Games history. But for Devers, an Olympic
Games 100 metre final was a just a warm-up
for the main event. In the hurdles, her closest
rival, Russia’s Lyudmila Narozhilenko, pulled a hamstring
before the semifinal. It was looking good
for Devers – she cruised through to the
final. But the path to Olympic gold
is never easy and, in the case of the
hurdles, there are quite literally a great many obstacles
to overcome. It’s a good start. But look at Devers. Devers is pulling away now
with that great finish. Devers is moving fast. Devers has hit the hurdle!
She’s down! Patoulidou, it looks like,
took the gold medal. But it’s got to be
heartbreaking for Gail Devers, and she doesn’t get
her Olympic double. Until that fateful final
hurdle, Devers had run the perfect
race. Statisticians later told her that she was on course
to smash the world record. The Greek champion Voula
Patoulidou began her celebrations, but the world wanted to know what had happened to Devers. The greatest hurdler in the
world was left diving over the line
in despair at what should have been
her finest moment. Devers said later that
it just wasn’t meant to be. Sadly for Devers, her Olympic hurdles heartbreak
had only just begun. Four years later in Atlanta, Devers was attracting
attention as usual, and not just because of the
talons on the end of her fingers. Again, she was favourite
for the 100 metre hurdles. She had won the World
Championships in ’93 and ’95 and was in excellent form. Again, she won gold
in the 100 metres sprint in the closest ever final –
a real nail-biter. And another gold in the relay. In her favourite event, the stage was set for Devers
to banish the ghosts of 1992. She made it to the final
without any problems. Unlike 1992, there was
no great drama this time. Devers simply wasn’t fast
enough. She got over all the hurdles
but managed only fourth behind a European top three. It wasn’t her day. When you’re jinxed, you’re
jinxed. Fast-forward four years to
the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Devers was 33 in 2000, but was the fastest woman that
year and won the world championships
yet again in 1999. But in the semifinals, she couldn’t get to the end of
the course. And Devers running easily here
in this semifinal. And she’s just pulled up!
Devers has pulled up! Has that Olympic hurdle
curse struck again? Gail Devers ended her career in the United States Olympic
Games Hall Of Fame with three gold medals. But she was left empty-handed
in her favourite event, leaving the rest of us
scratching our heads trying to work out whether one
of the strangest Olympic Games careers was a huge success
or a bitter disappointment.

53 Replies to “Gail Devers’ Olympic journey was not without the odd setback | Strangest Moments”

  1. The Olympic hurdles is always a sore spot for me when it comes to Gail! I watched her win the WC hurdles 3 times and watched her chase that elusive hurdles Olympic glory. Even when age had made it nearly impossible for her Legs to turn over fast enough to be world class in the 100m, she STILL had the hurdles! But as she said, it just wasn’t meant to be…

  2. This is why I pray well before I get on the track. Don't speak into your life like that and don't claim "the curse". It isn't who you are and it never will be. Hurdles is scary, but not expanding the borders of your mind to believe in your success is even scarier. I'm saying this because I've seen with my own eyes the change when I begin to disregard my past failures and shut out the world with their chatter and superstitions.

    Thanks, everyone!

  3. Ugh I don’t want to say cursed but ???…..cursed or not she is one of the greatest sprinters that ever graced the track

  4. Gut wrenching…heart breaking, yet STILL one of the best and most decorated sprinters in history!

  5. She lucked out every time in secondary event the 100m but never realised her Olympic potential in her best event. She should be world record holder for the hurdles so it's very sad

  6. And Y'all, Check This Out " She Had Or Still Has A Disease With Her Feet Where She Had To Take Some Kind Medicine, And For The Likes Of Me I Can't Think Of What Kind It Was, But Anyway She To Take This Medicine About 7 Or 8 Times A Day Cause She Didn't.. Her Feet Would Have Been No Good For Nothing!! And Still Look What The Woman Accomplished!!! " YOU GO GIRL" MAY GOD BLESS AND KEEP YOU!!! ( RoadRunner)

  7. I met her at a track meet for aau. One of her friends was a coach and she invited her. She acctually seemes like she was undefeated the way the announcer anounced her name to the whole crowd. But it was another USA olympian that invited Gail. Tiffany Ross, 400 meter dash and 400 hurdles, she also ran in the parent/coach relay(tiffany).
    My bad for the long story just wanted to tell everyone about my experience with her.
    I also got to wear her medals

  8. 참 저마지막허들이 저주의시작이었네~~~ 초딩때 디버스 마이클존슨 참 좋아하면서 올림픽봤지ㅋ 쓰리엠 모리스그린 마이클존슨 매리언존스 미국 육상참좋아했지ㅋ

  9. She also survived a thyroid disease that she was diagnosed with after the 1988 Olympics. 1992 was her comeback.

  10. She is still great, she won 3 gold medals in Olympics. As they say, if it is not for you, its not for you.

  11. She was an amazing woman athlete. She was a success. I didn't like the way the commentator ended the story. How many athletes are injured, caught up in a doping scandal or fall during a race. The the most amazing things are she fought hard came back and tried again and again despite the illness she had which was graves disease. She suffered so much which I feel was an inspiration in its self but she never gave up. Think about the training she did to accomplish her goals she was a lady who carried herself with perfect balance. She always carried herself like a professional, who articulated herself in a respectful manner. She in my eyes will always be the best hurdler of all time so she fell in 2 races big deal but got back up and tried despite the heart break she had to endure before millions of fans. She carried her self with grace. she has won 3 gold medals and if that isn't success then I dont know what is. That's my story and I am sticking to it. I salute you Gayle much love ?

  12. One of my all-time favorites. I remember watching her in 1992 as a little girl and being blown away by how fast and beautiful she was.

  13. Once again reminded us that luck plays an important part in success as well.

    My 2 favorite female sprinters are Devers and……who else but The One & Only Flo Jo

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