All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet
— Foster The People, Pumped Up Kicks
Gail Devers. Those fingernails. How can an Olympic athlete have finger nails that long? Well, when you Gail Devers you can do just about anything you want.
Devers came out of high school ranked as one of the top hurdlers in the country. She set a national record in the 100 meter hurdles and earned a spot on the 1988 Olympic team. While training for the Seoul Olympics she started to experience muscle pains and drop in weight. She was eliminated in the semi-finals with her slowest time since high school. Experts said that she practiced too hard, she put too much strain on her body.
But after the Olympics she felt worse. She started to lose her hair and hearing, her nails stopped growing and her skin fell away from her face. For the next two years nobody could diagnose her illness. Eventually she was treated for Graves disease and underwent radiation therapy. Complications from the radiation led her unable to walk. Doctors considered amputating her feet.
Gail Devers overcame all odds and recovered in time to compete in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She qualified for the 100 meter sprint and captured the gold in an unbelievable photo finish. Four years later she represented the USA in Atlanta and took home another two gold medals. Like I said, Gail Devers can do whatever she wants.
Mention Jesse Owens and most people immediately think of him sticking it to Hitler in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. A major highlight on any athlete’s legacy, no doubt, but what happened between 3:15-4:00pm on May 25, 1935 has no parallel by any athlete in any sport. Richard Rothschild of SI.com recounts the historic day and profiles one of the great American athletes. A must-read.
Ferry Field still stands. Outside the track a plaque commemorates Owens’ record-shattering day. It is, perhaps, the ultimate compliment in college sports that a University of Michigan athletic facility continues to honor the achievements of an Ohio State Buckeye.
A Chitwood & Hobbs Field Report