Special to NYSportsJournalism
May 14, 2012: Kristine Lilly, Dan O'Brien, Gail Devers and the 2004 Women's Softball Team, led by Jennie Finch and Lisa Fernandez, head up the Class of 2012 inductees into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate.
The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2012 will be formally introduced and honored on July 12 during an awards ceremony at the Harris Theater in Chicago. The ceremony will air on NBC Sports Network on Aug. 24.
The Class of 2012 was determined by a voting process that includes Olympians, Paralympians, members of the Olympic Family and a public voting element. This year more than 100,000 votes were cast at TeamUSA.org.
"The Class of 2012 inductees have provided fans of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams with countless inspiring moments, and it's an honor to welcome them to the U.S Olympic Hall of Fame, where both their achievements and impact will be celebrated," Scott Blackmun, USOC CEO, said in a statement. "Together with Allstate and fans of Team USA, we congratulate them on their accomplishments and thank them for their commitment to the Olympic and Paralympic Movements."
The Class of 2012 is the 15th class to be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate and will bring the total membership to 96 Olympians, five Paralympians, 10 teams, four coaches, 10 veterans, 16 contributors and two Olive Branch award inductees.
This year's induction ceremony comes just weeks before the Open Ceremony for the 2012 Summer Games in London.
"Over the years, these men and women captured our hearts and inspired us as Americans to strive for greatness."
According to Lisa Cochrane, svp-marketing for Allstate, "Over the years, these men and women captured our hearts and inspired us as Americans to strive for greatness, paving the way for today's Olympians and Paralympians who will soon compete in this summer's London Games."
Among the inductees:
• Lilly is a three-time Olympian (one silver and two gold medals), second only to Mia Hamm, Lilly tallied 130 career goals and was named the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year in 1993, 2005 and 2006.
• O'Brien claimed five U.S. national 10-event titles and his 1996 Olympic gold medal was his 11th consecutive decathlon win. He also is known for being part of a Reebok "Dan and Dave" marketing campaign (with fellow decathlete Dave Johnson) prior to the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, for which O'Brien failed to qualify.
• Devers is a five-time Olympian, three-time gold medalist and one of only two women to win back-to-back titles in the 100 meters at the Olympic Games.
• 2004 Women's Softball Team won gold following a 9-0 record, which included eight consecutive shutouts. Fernandez, who also is being inducted as a individual, was one of the most dominant pitchers in the history of the sport, a three-time Olympic gold medalist during which USA Softball went 23-4. Finch had a 2–0 record in the 2004 Athens Games, both shutouts, striking out 13 batters in eight innings while giving up only one hit.
Full List of 2012 Inductees
• Gail Devers (track & field)
• Jean Driscoll (Paralympic track & field)
• Gary Hall, Jr. (swimming)
• Lisa Fernandez (softball)
• Kristine Lilly (soccer)
• Dan O'Brien (track & field),
• Jenny Thompson (swimming)
• 2004 U.S. Olympic Women's Softball Team
• Ed Temple (coach – track & field)
• James Connolly (veteran – track & field)
• Ted Stevens (special contributor).