COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, December 8. TONIGHT, Rowdy Gaines will take his place in history as a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. The former Olympic champion will be inducted at the Harris Theater in Chicago, along with nine other honorees. The black-tie event will be broadcast on NBC on January 1 from 2:30-4 p.m.
A two-time Olympian (1980/1984) who now does commentary for NBC Sports’ coverage of swimming, Gaines won 17 national titles during his career and claimed three gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In addition to winning the 100-meter freestyle, he helped the U.S. to gold in the 400 free and 400 medley relays. Gaines was World Swimmer of the Year in 1980 and 1984 and set 11 world records during a four-year span.
The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame was established in 1979 to celebrate the achievements of America's premier athletes in the modern Olympic Games. The first U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame class was inducted in 1983 during ceremonies in Chicago. That Charter Class, which included Olympic greats Jesse Owens, Jim Thorpe and Muhammad Ali, remains the largest group (20 individuals and one team) ever inducted. In 2004, after a 12-year hiatus, the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame was revived through the support of the Allstate Insurance Company as the presenting sponsor.
To date, 182 athletes (including six U.S. teams) and special contributors to the U.S. Olympic Movement have been enshrined. From the Charter Class of 1983 to the 2004 inductees, Hall members represent an American honor roll of athletic ambassadors to the ideals of brotherhood and fair play.
Other honorees tonight include Evelyn Ashford (track), Shannon Miller (gymnastics), Kristi Yamaguchi (figure skating), Bob Hayes (track), Diana Golden-Brosnihan (paralympics), the 1984 men’s gymnastics team, Herb Brooks (1980 ice hockey coach) and Jack Shea (speedskating). Dick Ebersol, the Chairman of NBC Sports and Olympics, will be honored as a special contributor.