Gail Devers ’89, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time world champion known as the “world’s fastest woman,” will be honored with the UCLA Award in Professional Achievement.
At UCLA, Devers was named the Pac-10 Athlete of the Year in 1988 after winning the NCAA 100-meter dash and setting a U.S. record in the 100-meter hurdles. Her athletic career was threatened when in 1990 she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, a debilitating chronic thyroid disorder, and faced the possible amputation of both feet.
Less than 17 months after the diagnosis, however, Devers staged one of the greatest comebacks in the history of track and field, winning a gold medal in the 100-meter dash at the 1992 Olympics Games in Barcelona and becoming the first woman in 45 years to win both the 100-meter dash and 100-meter hurdles, at the 1993 World Championships.
Devers won two more gold medals at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, in the 400-meter relay and the 100-meter dash, becoming only the second woman to win the prestigious 100-meter event in two consecutive Olympics.
Off the track, Devers regularly makes appearances to educate the public about Graves’ disease and other thyroid conditions, leading fundraising efforts and testifying before Congress.