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U.S. Olympic Committee and Allstate Announce the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2008

April 15, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
For Immediate Release April 15, 2008 U.S. Olympic Committee and Allstate Announce the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2008 Chicago, Ill.-Karch Kiraly, three-time U.S. Olympian in volleyball (1984, 1988 and 1996) and three-time gold medalist, leads the distinguished Class of 2008 that will be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Presented by Allstate. The induction ceremony will take place June 19 in Chicago. The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2008 is comprised of nine Olympians, one Paralympian, an Olympic Coach, Veteran, Team and Special Contributor. Wrestler Bruce Baumgartner, athletics athlete Joan Benoit, figure skater Brian Boitano, boxer Oscar de La Hoya, equestrian J. Michael Plumb, basketball athlete David Robinson, swimmer Amy Van Dyken, shooter Lones W. Wigger, Jr. and Paralympic swimmer John Morgan will be inducted as individuals. Figure skating coach Carlo Fassi will be inducted in the Coach category along with Olympic figure skating gold medalist Carol Heiss Jenkins in the Veteran category. The members of the 1996 Women's Gymnastics Team-Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Jaycie Phelps and Kerri Strug-will also be honored in the Team category, as will legendary Hollywood producer Frank Marshall as the Special Contributor. The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Presented by Allstate, an awards-show style ceremony for which Kleenex and AT,T are associate sponsors, will air in a nationally-televised broadcast this summer. Viewers of the induction ceremony will be treated to a compelling broadcast which will relive the moments that catapulted the Class of 2008 to U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame status. Additionally, viewers will enjoy inspiring stories and insights from the inductees as well as from family, friends and fellow competitors of the honored legends."The legacies and contributions of this year's honorees will now live forever as they join our country's greatest Olympians in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame,"said Lisa Cochrane, vice president of marketing at Allstate."As a sponsor of the Hall of Fame since its celebrated revitalization in 2004, Allstate is proud to help protect and preserve this important part of our identity and source of American pride."Beginning today, tickets to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony can be purchased at www.usolympichalloffame.com About the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2008 Bruce Baumgartner is one of only eight U.S. Olympians to win medals in four different Olympiads. He won his first gold medal in wrestling at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He went on to win a silver medal in 1988 and a gold medal in 1992. At the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Baumgartner was elected U.S. flag bearer and U.S. Olympic Team captain. In his last Olympic Games, Baumgartner won a bronze medal. In 2002, he was selected as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Joan Benoit paved her own path in 1984 at the first women's marathon event of the Olympic Games. Despite a knee injury 17 days before at the Olympic Trials, Benoit triumphed in front of the pack to bring home the first gold medal in the event. Benoit won the Boston Marathon three times and held an American record in marathon from 1985 to 2003. She also won the Falmouth Road Race six times (1976, 1978, 1981-1983, and 1985) breaking records on four of those occasions. In 1985, despite struggles, Benoit won the Chicago Marathon and received the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States. Brian Boitano, a three-time Olympian (1984, 1988 and 1994), four-time U.S. champion and two-time world champion, was the first American to land a triple Axel in competition In 1988, during the"Battle of the Brians"at the Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, Boitano entered the free skate in an essential tie with Canadian Brian Orser. Boitano skated a clean program landing eight triple jumps en route to Olympic gold. In 1988, Boitano won gold at the U.S. Championships, Olympic Games and World Championships. He set a record when he earned nine perfect marks of 6.0 at the U.S. Championships, ensuring his fourth consecutive win at that event. In 1992, Oscar de La Hoya captured the lone gold medal for U.S. boxers winning the lightweight title defeating Marco Rudolph, the fighter who had defeated him a year earlier at the World Championships in Australia. Nicknamed the"Golden Boy,"de la Hoya was victorious at two U.S. Championships (1990 and 1991), the 1991 Goodwill Games and U.S. Olympic Festival as well as the 1992 World Championship Challenge. His amateur career included 223 wins, 163 by way of knockout, with only five losses. On his 19th birthday, de la Hoya made his professional boxing debut. In 1995, he was named Ring Magazine's"Fighter of the Year"and in 1997 he was named the publication's top-rated Pound for Pound fighter in the world. He has won six world titles as a professional boxer. Named the"greatest volleyball player of the century"by FIVB, the international volleyball federation, Karch Kiraly is the only player to win Olympic medals in both indoor and beach volleyball. As a member of Team USA, Kiraly took Olympic gold in indoor volleyball in 1984 and 1988. He also captured Olympic gold with partner Kent Steffes in 1996 when beach volleyball made its Olympic debut in Atlanta. Kiraly is the only volleyball player in Olympic history to collect three gold medals. A member of the Volleyball Hall of Fame and the AVCA Hall of Fame, Kiraly was named the"Best Player in the World"by FIVB in 1986 and 1988. Eight-time Olympian, J. Michael Plumb, has marched in more Olympic Opening Ceremonies than any other U.S. Olympic athlete, equestrian or otherwise. Plumb's Olympic career began with the 1960 Olympic Games and he was named to every Olympic three-day team through 1984. His final appearance was at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games. He tallied six Olympic medals, including team gold in 1976 and 1984, team silver in 1964, 1968 and 1972 and an individual silver in 1976. He won his first Olympic medal competing on a horse he had never ridden in competition before-an unprecedented feat. His international career also spanned several World Championships, including team and individual silver medals in 1974, and team bronze in 1978 and 1982. He is the first equestrian to be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. A member of the Dream Team in Barcelona, David Robinson, A.K.A."The Admiral", is the only U.S. basketball player to be named to three Olympic teams. Robinson represented the U.S. in 1988, 1992 and 1996 winning gold in 1992 and 1996 and a bronze medal in 1988. Robinson was also a member of the FIBA World Champion Team in 1986. The three-time Olympian is considered by many to be one of the top centers of his era. In 1990, Robinson was named Rookie of the Year by the NBA. He took home the NBA MVP trophy in 1995 and was named an NBA All-Star 10 times. Robinson was inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in 1998 along with Pele and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. In 2001, he earned the NBA Sportsmanship Award. He was also named as one of the 50 Greatest NBA Players in history. In her Olympic debut, Amy Van Dyken became the first American woman to win four golds at one Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, garnering medals in the 50m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 4x100 freestyle relay and 4x100m medley relay. Four years later, Van Dyken tallied two more gold medals at the Olympic Games in Sydney in the 4x100m freestyle relay and 4x100m medley relay. Following her success in Atlanta, Van Dyken was named USOC Female Athlete of the Year, AP Worldwide Female Athlete of the Year, USA Swimming Athlete of the Year, Colorado Athlete of the Year, Phillips 66 Performance of the Year, Women's Sports Foundation Individual Athlete of the Year, National Athletic Awards Female Athlete of the Year, ARETE Performance of the Year Award, Glamour Women of the Year Award and she received an ESPY Award for Female Athlete of the Year. Lones W. Wigger, Jr., whose career spanned 25 years, is a three-time Olympian, having competed at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico and the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, where he won a combined two gold and one silver medal. In addition, he qualified for the 1980 Olympic Team. Wigger also competed for the U.S. at five Pan American Games, where he won five silver and 13 gold medals. He is a member of the USA Shooting Hall of Fame and was also honored in 1996 by the USOC as a"Golden Olympian."A retired Army Lt. Col., Wigger is a two tour Vietnam Veteran and spent 25 years in active duty. Fifteen-time Paralympic medalist John Morgan, racing as a visually impaired swimmer, first competed at the Paralympic Games in 1984 notching five medals. Eight years later, Morgan tallied eight gold medals and a pair of silver medals setting six world records and two Paralympic records at the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games. Morgan set 14 world records in his swimming career, including five in the B2 classification and nine in the B1 classification. Carlo Fassi moved to the United States and began his coaching career following the 1961 plane crash that killed the entire U.S. World Figure Skating Team as well as many of the top American coaches. Fassi went on to coach five Olympic champions: Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, John Curry, Robin Cousins and Scott Hamilton as well as Olympians Jill Trenary and Paul Wylie. In 1997, while attending the World Figure Skating Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, as the coach of U.S. figure skater Nicole Bobek, Fassi suffered a fatal heart attack. He is survived by his wife, Christa von Kuczkowski, and three children, Riccardo, Monika and Lorenzo. Four-time U.S. and five-time World champion Carol Heiss Jenkins took home the silver following the 1956 Olympic Winter Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy where she was runner-up to fellow American Tenley Albright. Heiss Jenkins followed by capturing gold at the 1956 World Figure Skating Championships, defeating Albright in her first of five consecutive World titles. From 1957-60, she won four consecutive U.S. championships and was crowned Olympic champion at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley. In 1996, the U.S. Women's Team won the United States' first Olympic team gold medal on July 23. Dubbed the Magnificent Seven, the women on the U.S. Women's Team -- Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Jaycie Phelps and Kerri Strug -- lived up to their billing. Millions around the world witnessed the U.S. Team's outstanding performances that built its lead over Russia in the team competition. Strug's valiant landing on her second vault despite an injured ankle produced one of the Games' lasting memories. Her 9.712 vault secured the U.S. Team's clinching the gold medal with a 389.225 total, outscoring Russia and Romania. The Americans' victory was considered phenomenal because they defeated the 1995 world champion Romanians, becoming the first non-Soviet bloc nation to win a team gold since 1950 in either the World Championships or Olympics. Four-time Academy Award nominee, Frank Marshall, served as the co-producer of"Olympic Glory"in 1999 and as the television producer of"Centennial Olympic Games: Torch Relay Opening Ceremonies"in 1996. He also negotiated for"National Treasure"proceeds to benefit the U.S. Olympic Committee. In addition to his work with the Olympic Movement, the film producer and director has also worked on many of Hollywood's biggest films, including Paper Moon, E.T., the Indiana Jones trilogy, the Back to the Future trilogy, and the Color Purple. About the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame 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 such as Jesse Owens, Jim Thorpe and Cassius Clay, 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. With the addition of the Class of 2008, 213 athletes (including seven U.S. teams), coaches, and 13 special contributors to the U.S. Olympic Movement have been enshrined in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. From the Charter Class of 1983 to the 2008 inductees, Hall members represent an American honor roll of athletic ambassadors representing the ideals of brotherhood and fair play. For more information, please contact the USOC Media and Public Relations Division (719/866-4529). This release also is available on the USOC's media-specific web site http://usocpressbox.org.
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