Some of the best athletes in recent history took their place Thursday in the United States Olympic Hall of Fame.
Six Olympians, a Paralympian and the 2004 U.S. Olympic women's softball team along with a coach, veteran and special contributor were inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony at Chicago's Harris Theater, at 205 E. Randolph St.
"This is a tremendous honor. I mean, it puts me in the inner-most circle of the greats," said swimmer Gary Hall, Jr.
Other Inductees included Gail Devers (track & field), Jean Driscoll (Paralympic track & field), Lisa Fernandez (softball), Kristine Lilly (soccer), Dan O'Brien (track & field), Jenny Thompson (swimming), softball team members, track-and-field coach Ed Temple, track-and-field veteran James Connolly and special contributor Ted Stevens.
"As an athlete you don't think about the Hall of Fame," former American decathlete O'Brien told NBC Chicago's Stefan Holt. "You want to go and compete and do your best. I always dreamed of being an Olympian. ... Being a Hall of Famer is icing on the cake."
O'Brien won gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta after failing to make the 1992 Olympic team to Barcelona and is considered one of the best athletes in the sport.
"I not only never gave up I became the best in the world and was just determined to bring home that gold," O'Brien said. "And luckily I didn't have to go far to get it, I got it in Atlanta."
Heading into the Hall of Fame, he also had a few words of advice for this year's Team USA.
"Be ready. Be ready for the biggest media circus and the biggest show and more pressure than you've ever experienced in your life. There's nothing like the Olympic Games."