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A true champion, Yolanda Gail Devers’ track success came after years of misdiagnosed health problems. The American failed to qualify for the 1988 South Korean Olympics games in Seoul due to symptoms of an enlarged thyroid caused by an undiagnosed condition. After suffering with severe headaches and blurred vision, Devers lost 23 pounds of body weight before finally being correctly diagnosed with Graves’ disease in 1990. Two years of healthy training followed, enough to win gold at the Olympic Games in Barcelona.
Devers won the Womens 100m race in a time of 10.82, snatching victory from Juliet Cuthbert of Jamaica in a photo finish that saw an incredible five women, cross the line just 0.06 seconds apart. Devers also competed in the Womens 100m hurdles but hit her last hurdle, finishing fifth.
Devers became an American sprinting sensation with her trade mark extra long fingernails and went on to become the first woman to retain the Olympic 100m title since fellow American Wyomia Tyus in 1968. Four years after Barcelona and this time on home soil in Atlanta, Devers forced another photo finish, this time with Merlene Ottey of Jamaica. Both women finished with the same time, but a look at the photo gave Devers that second Olympic title. Another gold in the Womens 4x100m relay race gave Devers her third Olympic title.
Born in Seattle, Washington State, Devers grew up in San Diego, California and graduated from Sweetwater High School in 1984. The school named its athletics stadium after Devers, their most famous alumna.