CHICAGO, Illinois, April 17. THE United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and Allstate Insurance Company announced the nominees for the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2009 at a press event at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. The star-studded nominee list of 15 individuals, five teams and five Paralympians includes Olympic legends such as Teresa Edwards, Gary Hall, Sr., Michael Johnson, Picabo Street, the 1992 Men's Olympic Basketball Team, and more.
The nominees were unveiled today at an event headlined by Allstate chairman, president and chief executive officer, Tom Wilson, along with USOC acting CEO Stephanie Streeter, Chicago 2016 chairman and CEO Patrick Ryan, and U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame member John Naber.
"The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame celebrates our honorees' commitment to excellence and recognizes Americans who are role models and heroes," Wilson said. "Each of us can find strength, passion and inspiration in these ordinary people who achieved extraordinary success in the Olympics. They help make us proud to be Americans."
From now through June 16, fans can cast their votes for the 2009 class of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame online at http://www.teamusa.org/halloffame. The inducted class will include five individuals, one team and one Paralympian, as well as three additional individuals: a coach, veteran and special contributor. The inductees will be revealed in early July and will be honored at a black-tie induction ceremony on August 12 at McCormick Place in Chicago. The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate is the only national sports Hall of Fame that includes fan voting.
"The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame honors Olympic and Paralympic legends who have inspired our country for generations, uniting us behind Team USA and giving us role models who epitomize the Olympic Ideals," Streeter said. "Allstate's generous support of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and dedication to celebrating the accomplishments of America's Olympic and Paralympic greats further illustrates their commitment to the Olympic Movement and America's athletes."
The August 12 induction ceremony will honor the 2009 U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame class and introduce a new international award – the Olive Branch Award – given to an individual or individuals who best represent the international ideals of the Olympic Games by working to build a peaceful and better world through sport. Also new to 2009, the induction ceremony will feature a special fundraising banquet to benefit Chicago 2016, Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"We are very excited for the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate to return to Chicago for the fourth time," Ryan said. "Chicago is a city that truly embraces the Olympic Movement, and to have a Chicago company like Allstate involved in celebrating historic Olympic and Paralympic achievements showcases the broad support our city has for the movement."
Nominees for the induction class of 2009 were selected by a 10-person nominating committee consisting of athletes, members of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, historians and USOC representatives. Fans can vote by visiting http://www.teamusa.org/halloffame.
The nominees are:
Greg Barton, canoe/kayak
Jeff Blatnick, wrestling
Valerie Brisco-Hooks, athletics
Tracie Ruiz-Conforto, synchronized swimming
Teresa Edwards, basketball
Gary Hall, Sr., swimming
Michael Johnson, athletics
Mary T. Meagher, swimming
Sheila Young Ochowicz, speedskating
Darrell Pace, archery
Terry Schroeder, water polo
John Smith, wrestling
Picabo Street, alpine skiing
Peter Westbrook, fencing
Willye White, athletics
Jean Driscoll, athletics
David Larson, athletics
Greg Mannino, alpine skiing
Tony Volpentest, athletics
Sarah Will, alpine skiing
1976 U.S. Women's 4×100 Freestyle Relay Team
1992 U.S. Men's Basketball Team
1996 U.S. Synchronized Swimming Team
1998 U.S. Women's Ice Hockey Team
2002 U.S. Women's Bobsled Team
For more information on the 2009 nominees, including bios and photos, and a comprehensive list of existing U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame members, please visit www.teamusa.org.
Special thanks to the USOC for contributing this report.