Class Of 2022 Reflects On Past, Looks To Future At U.S. Olympic & Paralympic HOF Induction Ceremony
by Bob Reinert
Michelle Kwan speaks during the 2022 U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee Hall Of Fame Ceremony on June 24, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Michelle Kwan recalled being a 7-year-old watching Brian Boitano land his signature triple lutz during the Olympic Winter Games Calgary 1988, turning to her parents and making a declaration.
“I know what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Kwan told them. “I want to go to the Olympics!”
Rather than laughing at their daughter, her parents explained how much hard work it took to reach the Games.
“And that is where it all began,” Kwan said. “My parents were the first to believe in me.”
Kwan shared that memory Friday night during her induction into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Class of 2022 includes eight individuals, two teams, two legends, one coach and one special contributor.
In addition to Kwan, the inductees include: Natalie Coughlin, swimming; Muffy Davis, Para alpine skiing and Para-cycling; Mia Hamm, soccer; David Kiley, Para alpine skiing, Para track and field, and wheelchair basketball; Michael Phelps, swimming; Lindsey Vonn, alpine skiing; Trischa Zorn-Hudson, Para swimming; the 1976 women’s 4x100 freestyle relay swimming team; the 2002 Paralympic sled hockey team; Gretchen Fraser, legend, alpine skiing; Roger Kingdom, legend, track and field; Pat Summitt, coach, basketball; and Billie Jean King, special contributor.
This 17th class of inductees has represented the U.S. as athletes at a combined 27 Olympic and Paralympic Games, producing 129 medals, including 86 gold medals. Summitt and King become the first female inductees in the coach and special contributor categories, respectively.
More than 432,000 votes were cast for this class by Olympians and Paralympians, members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic family, and an online vote open to fans. The Hall of Fame now includes 168 individual and team inductees.
Kwan, the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, is a two-time Olympic medalist, five-time world champion and nine-time world championships medalist.
“I’m so honored to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Kwan said. “And never in my wildest dreams could I imagine being inducted alongside a class of pioneers, giants and GOATS — not literally goats, but greatest-of-all-time Olympic and Paralympic athletes.”
Kwan pointed to the many individuals and organizations who helped make that dream come true. The journey was well worth it.
“The Olympics has taught me so many life lessons — hard work, perseverance and never giving up,” Kwan said. “The Olympic ideals are what guide me throughout my life, and I will be forever grateful for the honor to compete at the Olympics and represent the United States of America.”
Vonn owns three Olympic medals, eight world championships medals and a women’s record 82 world cup victories.
“I’d like to encourage past, present and future Olympians and Paralympians to continue to keep the Olympic and Paralympic spirit alive by using your platform for good,” Vonn said. “Like these amazing people before me, and many others have proven, great things can be achieved in ways that reach far beyond the medals.”
Kiley, a six-time Paralympian who won medals in three sports — wheelchair basketball, track and field, and Para alpine skiing — expressed his gratitude for being chosen.
“This is the hall of halls,” Kiley said. “The best athletes in the world live under this roof, and I am one of them. I am in heaven.
“To the USOPC, thank you for integrating the ‘P’ into the acronym of inclusion — USOPC. It was never about what I lost as an adaptive athlete but was always about what I gained.”
The 2002 U.S. sled hockey team brought home the first gold medal for the program and paved the way for future success in the sport. The Americans have won five gold medals in sled hockey, including the last four in a row.
“We did it boys! Heck of way to reunite after 20 years, huh?” said goalie Manny Guerra, speaking on behalf of his teammates. “What a class of Olympic and Paralympic icons to be honored and inducted with. Surreal.”
Guerra recognized the sacrifices made by the players’ families.
“To our brothers and sisters and our parents, in particular our mothers, who had to put up with us … we say thank you,” Guerra said. “To our partners, sons and daughters, we realize that our own miracle on ice 20 years ago came with a cost, the cost of time away from you. We will forever be in your debt and want you to know how much your support and love means to us.”
Coughlin’s 12 medals in 12 races across three Summer Games tie her with Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres as the most-decorated women swimmers in Olympic history.
“I look back on my career with such gratitude and pride,” Coughlin said. “While I got my fill of competition, I miss the daily grind of chasing impossible dreams with my teammates. That camaraderie is so incredibly special.”
Davis, a Paralympic medalist in alpine skiing and cycling, has continued to promote Para sports.
“An athlete, when they stand, or sit, on top of the podium, is never there alone,” Davis said. “While they may be the one to reap the glory of the win, they couldn’t have done it without the immense support system, foundation, under them.”
Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.