Olympic champions and record holders Mildred ‘Babe’ Didrikson, Michael Johnson and Dan O’Brien are the latest American track and field legends to be included among the 24 inaugural members of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Hall of Fame.
IAAF President Lamine Diack made the announcement in Times Square in New York City Wednesday as part of a ‘100 Kids – 100 metres – 100 years’ relay event to mark 100 years of the IAAF.
Diack was accompanied by IAAF Athlete Ambassador Tirunesh Dibaba, the reigning Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion, and were joined by O’Brien, who was the surprise guest of honor.
Didrikson was the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic champion in the javelin and 80m hurdles and silver medallist in the high jump. She first equalled and then broke the world record in the hurdles and also tied the world record in the high jump.
Johnson, regarded as the finest combination 200m and 400m sprinter of all-time, won nine individual Olympic and World Championships titles in the events. Johnson made history at the 1995 World Championships when he became the first man to win both events at a global championships, a feat he famously replicated a year later at the Olympic Games in Atlanta. A former world record holder at 200m, he has held the 400m world record since 1999.
A three-time World Outdoor champion in the Decathlon, O’Brien is rightly considered one of the finest multi-event athletes in history. The American record holder in the decathlon, O’Brien is the former world record holder and also won Olympic gold in 1996.
“It gives me immense pleasure to honor the historic records and achievements of Mildred Didriksen, Michael Johnson and Dan O’Brien,” commented Diack. “There can be few more iconic American locations than New York City’s Times Square and so today is a most appropriate occasion on which to announce the inclusion of three American greats, all-time legends of track and field athletics, among the inaugural members of the IAAF Hall of Fame.”
To mark the IAAF Centenary, a total of 24 athletes will become inaugural members of the IAAF Hall of Fame in 2012, with the official induction ceremony taking place at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona on Saturday, November 24, 2012.
Art Image Credit: Gabe Richesson