USA Gymnastics introduced Friday that Dianne Durham might be inducted into the 2021 Hall of Fame, 38 years after she grew to become the primary Black gymnast to win the senior nationwide championship and 4 months after her demise at age 52.
Durham might be inducted alongside the 2004 U.S. males’s Olympic workforce and 4 people, together with six-time world medalist Rebecca Bross, on June 26 in St. Louis.
“While our community continues to mourn Dianne’s passing, her trailblazing legacy lives on each day in gyms across the country,” USA Gymnastics president Li Li Leung informed ESPN in an announcement. “We could not be more pleased that the Hall of Fame Committee has chosen to memorialize Dianne’s significant and lasting contribution to our sport in this special way.”
Born in Gary, Indiana, Durham was recognized for her artistry and energy, as an all-around gymnast and as a joyful performer who infused routines together with her character. After successful back-to-back junior nationwide titles in 1981 and 1982, Durham moved to Houston to practice with Bela and Martha Karolyi, who defected from Romania in 1981. At 15, she captured the 1983 senior nationwide title, a groundbreaking achievement, and alongside together with her teammate, Mary Lou Retton, ushered in an period of energy tumbling and development within the sport.
The final gymnast to beat Retton in all-around competitors, Durham appeared certain for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and a run on the all-around title, however a mixture of accidents and politics disadvantaged her of a spot on the workforce. Durham retired from competitors at 16 and finally grew to become a coach, gymnasium proprietor and national-level choose in Chicago.
“Dianne loved gymnastics no matter what,” Durham’s husband, Tom Drahozal, informed ESPN. “But after what happened in 1984, even though she loved it, she always felt part of the community didn’t love her as much as she loved the sport. She felt like the powers that be didn’t value her contribution to the sport.”
After her demise in February, Drahozal obtained an outpouring of messages from present and former gymnasts who had been impressed by Durham. Leung referred to as and despatched flowers. Members of the 1984 Olympic workforce reached out to say Durham was lengthy overdue her spot within the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Paul Ziert, former University of Oklahoma coach and the writer of International Gymnast, organized a fundraiser to create a Dianne Durham Humanitarian Award and raised greater than $25,000. Last weekend, on the invitation of USA Gymnastics, Ziert spoke about Durham’s accomplishments throughout a ceremony honoring her on the U.S. Championships in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I don’t think she ever expected this kind of response,” Drahozal mentioned. “She would be overwhelmed.”
Drahozal mentioned he believes the groundswell of help for his spouse after her demise, in addition to the efforts of members of the 1984 girls’s Olympic gymnastics workforce, pushed USA Gymnastics and the Hall of Fame committee to lastly acknowledge Durham.
“It’s all bittersweet,” Drahozal mentioned. “The recognition is nice, but I wish she was here to see it all and to personally receive her award. She always said this day would never happen.”
The induction ceremony for 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame inductees will happen alongside Olympic trials in St. Louis. Drahozal and Durham’s sister, Alice Durham Woods, plan to attend and settle for the award on her behalf.