Olympian Yolanda Gail Devers was born on November 19, 1966, Seattle, Washington, and began running in high school. Later, at the University of California at Los Angeles, Devers won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 100 meter dash in 1988 and set an American record of 12.61 sec in the 100 meter hurdles, which she held for three years.
While training for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, Devers‘ health began to deteriorate. She suffered from migraine headaches, sleeplessness, and fainting spells, and in 1990 her condition was diagnosed as Graves’ disease, a thyroid disorder. After months of painful radiation treatment, with brutal side effects, Devers resumed training and won the Athletics Congress championship with a time of 12.83 sec in the 100 meter hurdles and finished second at the world championships in Tokyo.
In 1992, less than 17 months after doctors had considered amputating her feet, Gail Devers won a gold medal in the 100 meter dash at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, and was leading in the 100 meter hurdles before stumbling and finishing fifth. At the 1993 world championships in Stuttgart, Germany, she won both events. Gail Devers picked up two gold medals at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, the first in the 100 meter run and the second as part of the 4-100 meter relay team.
More recently, Gail Devers had a tremendous season in 2003, winning the USA and World indoor 60-meter 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 Verizon Millrose Games (7.78). During the 2004 indoor season, Gail Devers became the first American athlete in history to win both the 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships. She continued her gold medal streak in the World Indoors 60-meter dash clocking in 7.08 seconds, her fastest time of the year and the second fastest time in the world in 2004.
Gail Devers was awarded the USATF’s 1999 Visa Humanitarian Athlete of the Year. Her foundation, The Gail Devers Foundation, raises money for charities throughout the country.