Star Olympians Racing to Fame in Chicago - NBC Chicago

Star Olympians Racing to Fame in Chicago

Olympians Named to US Hall of Fame



    Star Olympians Racing to Fame in Chicago
    They called them the "Dream Team" and Chicago Olympics officials are hoping their visit to town next month will be followed by a successful bid for the 2016 Games.

    Five Olympians, one Paralympian, and an entire team are among this year's inductees into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. 

    The group includes the "Dream Team" basketball squad from the 1992 games, as well as track stars Michael Johnson and Willye White, skiers Picabo Street and Andrea Mead-Lawrence, basketball star Teresa Edwards, swimmer Mary Meagher, paralympian Sarah Will, Abie Grossfeld, the longtime men's gymnastics coach, and longtime USOC chief Peter Ueberroth.
    In a continuing nod to the USOC's ties to Chicago as the 2016 bid effort hits its zenith, the new Hall of Fame group will be inducted in ceremonies at McCormick place August 12, an event which will be broadcast on NBC September 5. 
    The ceremony will serve as a final fundraiser for Chicago 2016, before the host city decision is announced in Copenhagen.
    The Olympic Hall of Fame was recently re-invigorated with a new sponsor, Allstate Insurance, and features direct voting by the general public.  The USOC says more than 112,000 votes were cast.

    Inductees to U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame: 

    Teresa Edwards, Basketball
    Teresa Edwards is the most decorated Olympic basketball player in the world, male or female, with four gold medals and one bronze medal in five Olympic Games. She is the USA's only five-time Olympic basketball player and one of only three five-time Olympic basketball players (male or female) in the world. She is also one of only three U.S. Olympians to win gold in four different Olympic Games, joining former teammate Lisa Leslie and sprinter Carl Lewis. Only five other non-U.S. athletes have accomplished the feat.

    Edwards played on the 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Teams. Those teams combined to achieve a 31-1 record and the 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2000 U.S. teams each went undefeated to claim Olympic gold. All told, Edwards was a member of 20 USA Basketball teams, including two World Championship gold medal teams, and overall, teams with Edwards as a member compiled a 189-13 win-loss record.

    Michael Johnson, Athletics
    Michael Johnson will forever be known as the golden man of track & field. Wearing his trademark golden Nike shoes, he oftentimes left the rest of the field in his dust with his upright running posture. Johnson won four Olympic medals - all gold - while competing in three Olympic Games. He made his Olympic debut at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games and was a part of the World Record-breaking 4x400-meter relay team. His signature moments came at the Atlanta Games, when he became the only man to accomplish the 200-400 double, winning both races with ease and breaking the World Record in the 200 meters. He defended his title in the 400 meters at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

    Johnson, a Baylor University graduate, won eight World Championship titles. His World Records in the 400 and the 4x400 relay still stand, and his 200 record of 19.32 held up for 12 years until Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt broke it at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

    Mary T. Meagher, Swimming
    Mary T. Meagher, nicknamed "Madame Butterfly," won three gold medals in swimming at the 1984 Olympic Games, highlighting a decade of dominance that included World Record swims throughout the 1980s. She qualified and was expected to medal at the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games but was unable to compete due to the U.S. boycott. She made her Olympic debut at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and won triple gold, taking both the 100- and 200-meter butterfly and swimming the butterfly leg on the 4x100 medley relay. At the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, she finished her Olympic career with silver in the 4x100 medley relay and a bronze in the 200 fly. Meagher was one of eight U.S. Olympians selected to carry the Olympic Flag into the Opening Ceremony of the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games

    Her success was not limited to the Olympic stage. Meagher captured several medals at the World Championships in 1982 and 1986, including a pair of individual titles. She won 24 National Titles and she also owns two more golds apiece competing at the Pan American Games and the Pan Pacific Championships.

    Picabo Street, Alpine Skiing
    A three-time Olympian, Picabo Street first joined the U.S. Ski Team in 1989 and earned a silver medal at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in ¬the downhill. The Sun Valley, Idaho, native left her mark in Olympic history in 1998, taking gold in the Nagano super G by a mere hundredth of a second.

    Street medaled in three World Championships, earning combined silver in 1993, and super G bronze and downhill gold in 1996. Winning six of nine World Cup competitions in 1995, Street became the first American to win a World Cup season title in a speed event. After a leg injury and two years of rehabilitation, Street returned to compete in 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City before retiring. With nine career victories, she was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2005.

    Willye White, Athletics
    The first woman to compete for the U.S. Team in five Olympic Games, Willye White's Olympic career spanned 16 years, from 1956 to 1972. Specializing in the long jump and 100 meters, she earned a silver medal in long jump at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne at the age of 16, marking the first time an American woman medaled in the event. She won her second silver medal in 1964 as a member of the 4x100 meter relay team in Tokyo.

    White was a member of more than 30 international and national track teams and won 12 Amateur Athletic Union long jump titles during her career. She set seven American records and won 13 national indoor and outdoor titles. She has been inducted into 11 sports hall of fames, including her 1981 induction into the USATF National Track & Field Hall of Fame.

    White passed away in February 2007.

    Sarah Will, Paralympic Alpine Skiing
    Sarah Will had her first run of the mountain at the age of four. From that moment on she was hooked on the sport. In 1988, the Olympic skiing hopeful was in a serious skiing accident that paralyzed her from the waist down. Rather than give up the sport she loved, she took up mono skiing and was back on the slopes just one year later. Four years after her start in the mono-ski, she competed in her first Paralympic Games, winning gold in downhill and super G in 1992 in Albertville, France.

    Will won a total of 12 Paralympic gold medals and one silver medal throughout her four Paralympic experiences, making her the most decorated female mono skier in U.S. Ski Team history. In 2002, Will took the Paralympic alpine skiing gold medal sweep, winning all four races, along with the U.S. Paralympic Spirit Award.

    1992 U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Team
    Simply put, the 1992 U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Team dominated. In the first Olympic Games to allow NBA players, the Dream Team steamrolled the rest of the world on its way to gold. In eight games, they outscored opponents by an average margin of 44 points, including a 121-76 blowout of Lithuania in the semifinals. In the gold medal game, they faced a Croatian squad featuring a few fellow NBA names and culminated in a 117-85 victory.

    The star-studded American roster was comprised of NBA player legends: Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson and John Stockton, and a legendary coaching staff consisting of the late Chuck Daly, and assistants P.J. Carlesimo, Mike Krzyzewski and Lenny Wilkens. How famous was the group? In addition to fans, players representing opposing teams from all over the world asked for the Americans' autographs and pictures before each tipoff.

    Abie Grossfeld, Coach
    Abie Grossfeld served as head coach for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Men's Gymnastics Team that earned eight medals, including the U.S. men's only Olympic team gold medal. He was also the head coach of the men's gymnastics team at the 1972 and 1988 Olympic Games, as well as assistant coach for the men's team in 1964 and the women's team in 1968. He was the personal coach of Peter Kormann, who became the first U.S. man to win an Olympic medal in 44 years with a bronze medal on floor exercise in 1976. Grossfeld also served as head coach for the U.S. men's gymnastics team at five World Championships and two Pan American Games, including the 1987 Pan Am Games when the men won the team gold medal. The U.S. national coach for men's gymnastics from 1981-88, Grossfeld coached the first U.S. men's team that defeated the USSR in 1982. He also served as a collegiate gymnastics head coach for 42 years, spending one year at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and 41 years at Southern Connecticut State University. 

    As an athlete, Grossfeld represented the USA internationally from 1952-67. He competed in two Olympic Games (1956, 1960), two World Championships (1958, 1962) and three Pan American Games (1955, 1959, 1963: the U.S. won the team gold all three years). At the University of Illinois, he won four NCAA titles and seven Big Ten Championships, as well as the Big Ten Medal of Honor. Additional honors include: National Coach of the Year for USA Gymnastics (1984) and the NCAA (1973, 1975 and 1976); USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame (as an athlete, coach and contributor); and the first and only American to achieve the status of FIG Master Coach (2000).

    Andrea Mead-Lawrence, Veteran (Skiing)
    Andrea Mead-Lawrence skied at three Olympic Winter Games, including the 1952 Oslo Games where she won gold medals in slalom and giant slalom. Before America became the skiing force it is today, she helped build the U.S. ski program from the ground up to compete with the traditional European powers. Mead-Lawrence became the youngest athlete to be chosen for the U.S. Women's Olympic Alpine Ski Team when, at age 14, she made the 1948 squad. In her Olympic debut, she finished eighth in the slalom at St. Moritz. Four years later, her double gold performance was lauded by Hall of Fame Olympic film producer Bud Greenspan, who called her his No. 1 Winter Olympian. She concluded her Olympic career in three races at the Cortina 1956 Olympic Winter Games, finishing fourth in the giant slalom. Mead-Lawrence, the only U.S. woman to win two skiing gold medals at one Olympic Winter Games succumbed to cancer on March 30, 2009 at age 76. She is survived by her five children and four grandchildren.

    Peter Ueberroth, Special Contributor
    Over the last three decades, Peter Ueberroth may have been the most influential figure to the Olympic Movement in the United States. From 1980-84, he was President of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, heading the first private non-profit organization responsible for staging and operating an Olympic Games. Under Ueberroth's leadership, the Los Angeles Games came away with a surplus of $238 million that continues to support youth and sports programs throughout the United States. Ueberroth was the first Chair of the restructured USOC Board of Directors from 2004-08. He stabilized the leadership of the USOC during a turbulent time, and his leadership created momentum and credibility for the Olympic Movement in the United States. Olympic TV ratings shot up during his tenure, which ended with a record 110 U.S. Team medal tally at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Ueberroth continues to aid the USOC as President in an honorary capacity. He has received the Olympic Order-Gold from the International Olympic Committee, the IOC's highest honor.