Sterkel is inducted into the US Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – Longhorn legend Jill Sterkel has been selected for induction into the US Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame, Class of 2022 as part of the 1976 women’s 4×100 meter freestyle relay swimming team, the USOPC announced Monday.
The Class of 2022 consists of eight individuals, two teams, two Legends, one coach and one special contributor who will be honored in a ceremony on Friday, June 24 at the US Olympic & Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs.
At 15, Sterkel and teammates Kim Peyton, Wendy Bogliolo and Shirley Babashoff won gold in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. En route to breaking the world record by nearly four seconds, the women’s team defeated a team of state-sponsored, medically-enhanced athletes from East Germany, later revealed, in the final competition of the swimming program.
At the same Olympics, Sterkel placed seventh in the 100-meter freestyle and rode in the heats of the 200-meter freestyle.
Sterkel later became the first woman to be selected to four US Olympic swimming teams (1976, ’80, ’84 and ’88) and was elected team captain three times – in 1980, 1984 and 1988. During her Olympic career, she won twice Gold medals and two bronze medals in freestyle and relay.
Sterkel, inducted into the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor in 2000, competed for the Longhorns from 1979 to 1983 and anchored the Texas Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national championship teams in 1981 and 1982, receiving 27 All-American honors and won 16 individual championships. She received the Honda Award for National Female Swimmer of the Year twice (1979–80 and 1980–81) and won the 1980–81 Honda-Briderick Cup for National Female Athlete of the Year.
Following her historic swimming career at the University of Texas, the Hacienda Heights, California native served as an assistant swim and diving coach at UT from 1986 to 1991 before leading the Longhorns to continued success for 14 seasons (1992 to 2006) as head coach ). Sterkel led the Longhorns to eight straight Big 12 titles (1999–2006) and was named Big 12 Swim Coach of the Year six times while coaching two female swimmers (Whitney Hedgepath and Erin Phenix) to Olympic team spots.
The 2022 US Olympic & Paralympic Class also includes Natalie Coughlin (swimming), Muffy Davis (para-alpine skiing and para-cycling), Mia Hamm (football), David Kiley (para-alpine skiing, para-athletics and wheelchair basketball). , Michelle Kwan (Figure Skating), Michael Phelps (Swimming), Lindsey Vonn (Alpine Skiing), Trischa Zorn-Hudson (Paraswimming), the 2002 Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, Gretchen Fraser (Legend: Alpine Skiing), Roger Kingdom (Legend: Athletics ), Pat Summitt (Coach: Basketball) and Billie Jean King (Special Contribution).
The Class of 2022 has represented the United States as an athlete at a total of 27 Olympic and Paralympic Games, earning 129 medals, including 86 gold medals.
National governing bodies, alumni, current athletes and other members of the Olympic and Paralympic community were invited to submit nominations. From there, a nominating committee made up of people from the Olympic and Paralympic movements narrowed the selection down to a number of finalists. The Class of 2022 was determined by a voting process that included Olympians and Paralympians, members of the US Olympic and Paralympic families, and an online vote for fans. The US Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame was one of the first national sports halls to include fan voting in its selection process, and this year more than 432,000 votes were cast across all platforms.