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Gail Devers: Wyomia Tyus was my inspiration and the reason I achieved my back-to-back Olympic 100m success |  Olympic Games News


Gail Devers was the second woman to win two consecutive gold medals in the 100m after being won for the first time by Wyomia Tyus; Devers says Tyus is her “unsung hero” and the reason she was inspired to defend her 100m title in 1996

Last updated: 07/22/21 18:54



Gail Devers: Wyomia Tyus was my inspiration and the reason I achieved my back-to-back Olympic 100m success |  Olympic Games News







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Three-time Olympic champion Gail Devers pays tribute to one of the greatest Olympians in history, Wyomia Tyus

Three-time Olympic champion Gail Devers pays tribute to one of the greatest Olympians in history, Wyomia Tyus

Three-time Olympic champion Gail Devers paid tribute to one of the greatest Olympians in history, Wyomia Tyus, calling Tyus an “unsung hero”.

Before this year’s games, Air sports told the story of Tyus, the world’s first consecutive 100m Olympic champion.

Gail Devers: Wyomia Tyus was my inspiration and the reason I achieved my back-to-back Olympic 100m success |  Olympic Games News

The forgotten story of one of the greatest Olympians in history – and a pioneer of contestation in sport

Wyomia Tyus is the first consecutive Olympic champion in the 100m. So why has history forgotten its history?

American athlete Devers became the second woman to achieve this record when she won gold in Atlanta in 1996, and 25 years later spoke to Air sports on Tyus’ impact on his success.

She said: “[Tyus] is my unsung hero and his name is always in my mouth!

“I can’t talk about my accomplishments without talking about hers because she’s the one who inspired me to go out and do it.”

“Tyus is the reason I got this second medal”

Devers is a five-time world champion (100m, 100m hurdles (3) and 4x100m relay), but the crowning achievement was joining Tyus by winning two consecutive Olympic gold medals in the 100m in 1992 and 1996.

Gail Devers: Wyomia Tyus was my inspiration and the reason I achieved my back-to-back Olympic 100m success |  Olympic Games News

Devers won his first Olympic gold medal in Barcelona in 1992

Only one woman has added her name to this exclusive list since – Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – while Carl Lewis (1988) and Usain Bolt (2012) are the only male athletes who can make this claim. Bolt became the only sprinter to finish on the top of the podium three times when he won in Rio in 2016.

Devers said Tyus’ influence at a reunion in 1993 prompted her to achieve that second medal in Atlanta.

She said Air sports: “I was aware [of the record] because I had been to an event in 1993 sitting there talking to Wyomia just teasing and saying, “I’ll have my name in the record books next to yours.”

“She said, ‘you should, that’s a great achievement.’

“And I came home putting on my sticky note that this is one of my goals and I worked to achieve that goal.

“I always tell the story that she was the reason – I was like okay, I’m going to do it.

“Not just the fact that she’s doing it and being as awesome as she was – she’s equaled or broken the world record four times in her career. People don’t know that.

“She was not considered [a contender] for the 1964 Olympics, they just said ‘get out, you’re running fine, maybe you’ll win a medal.’

“But she had this confidence that ‘no I don’t win a medal, i will win the medal. I’m going to win these Games, no one will beat me in 64 or 68 ‘.

“I think just understanding the type of person she was, the energy she had, she didn’t care what other people thought, what you believed.

“It was what she believed in herself and what she was willing to work for – that’s what made the difference. And I tried to be the same.”

“You must know your story”

In the interview with Tyus, she said, “They can’t talk about history unless they say my name.”

Tyus revealed that when Lewis won his second men’s gold in 1988, the commentator claimed it was the first time an athlete had won the 100m at a back-to-back Olympics.

Gail Devers: Wyomia Tyus was my inspiration and the reason I achieved my back-to-back Olympic 100m success |  Olympic Games News

Tyus moments after winning his second gold in the 100m in 1968 in Mexico City

And just as Tyus stressed the importance of knowing the facts about female athletes and their success, Devers said more knowledge should be shared about the history of women – especially black women – in sport.

“I’m more upset when I hear people don’t know their story [than receiving personal recognition], “said Devers.

“Not knowing their history means they don’t know who Wyomia Tyus is. How can you talk about the sprints and the 100m?

“I come back to my story knowing that the first gold medal was awarded to Betty Robinson in 1928 from the United States, so you have to know your story.

“And I stand proudly on the shoulders of those who came before me, knowing all they had to go through in the 60s in the face of racial issues and all the things they had to do to make me what i am and for people even know who i am.

“Like [Tyus said], they didn’t talk about women in sports and certainly not about black women in sports and what they did was trivial.

“But it isn’t. It’s what makes us who we are.”

You can watch Devers’ full interview on Sky Sports News by clicking on the video at the top of the page.

Click here to watch Sky Sports’ exclusive interview with Wyomia Tyus.

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