Olympic champion Gail Devers will be running the 100-meter sprint and 100-meter hurdles for the United States at the World Athletics Championships in France. Devers has also had success in a number of other events.
Devers must need an incredibly large cabinet at her home in Duluth, Georgia, to hold all the medals and trophies she has won during her extraordinary athletic career. The 1988 graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles twice won Olympic gold in the 100-meters, and is a three-time world and nine-time United States champion in the 100-meter hurdles.
But the versatile Devers has also won Olympic gold as part of the women's four by 100-meter relay, is a two-time world champion in the 60-meter hurdles, and has won many other events too numerous to mention. However, she says running the 100-meter sprint and hurdles in Paris has necessitated some training adjustments.
"For the last couple years I have only been geared toward just the hurdles, you know, which is a whole different regimen for me," she said. "So now having to add the 100 back in and you know, work on speed work which I've not had to do in the past and still try to negotiate my hurdles is something different for me."
Gail Devers is nothing if not determined, bouncing back from a bout with Graves disease between 1988-1991. She was just days away from having her feet amputated, but careful diet and proper medication brought the illness under control and allowed her to make a successful comeback. Now approaching her 37th birthday, Gail Devers talks about why she is competing in both events.
"You know, my motivation to be honest is my fans," he said. "I get a lot of e-mail and fan letters from various people who say 'keep doing it for us.' And I tell people I feel like I'm 19, and I really do. I'm excited now about competing, I'm having fun out there."
The daughter of a Baptist minister, faith is also an important part of Devers' life. "If it was not meant for me to be, I would not have made the team in both [events]. And a lot of people ask why would I continue to try to run both of those events at my age and I think what God has for you is for you." After years of being coached by Bobby Kersee, Gail Devers has had to make some changes since starting to coach herself last year. "I cannot rely on listening to a coach's voice because I am the coach," he said. "So I have to put on this hat and say OK, as an athlete this is what I want from my coach and then put the coach's hat on and say well if you do it right you will get it. It keeps it exciting for me."
The medals in the women's 100-meter sprint will be awarded Sunday night, with the finals of the 100-meter hurdles scheduled for Wednesday night. When it's all over, don't be surprised to find Gail Devers on the podium again.