The Chronicle’s best wins bracket previously introduced some of Duke men’s basketball’s top moments throughout the years. This new series coincides with those moments, shedding light on some of Duke Athletics’ other highlights throughout the school’s storied history. We hope you enjoy this stroll down memory lane. Today's moment: Nancy Hogshead brings home four medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Citius, Altius, Fortius. The Olympic podium is the ultimate dream for many athletes around the world. In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Blue Devil Nancy Hogshead accomplished the incredible feat of raising the Star-Spangled Banner four times in the span of six days. But for the most decorated swimmer in Duke history, the glorious California delight didn’t come easy.
Hogshead’s record-breaking career took off early and by the age of 14, she was already ranked number one in the world. Despite qualifying for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Hogshead’s appearance on the biggest sporting stage was delayed for a quadrennial cycle due to the US boycott.
Upon accepting a scholarship from Duke, Hogshead quickly dominated the ACC as she earned All American recognition and finished her 1981 campaign with four ACC titles. Her career took a tragic turn in the fall of that year. A casual Friday-night jog in between the two Duke campuses turned into a horrific sexual assault incident, in which Hogshead was mentally and physically injured.
The Iowa City native was absent from the pool due to the incident for a year and in a sport where gifted high schoolers popped onto the scene from time to time, nobody knew if Hogshead had already missed her Olympic window.
To everyone’s amazement, the swimmer made a comeback of the ages. Nearly 18 months after her return, she stood at lane four in the then McDonald's Olympic Swim Stadium for the 100 Meter Freestyle final. Trailing by less than two-tenths of a second in the first 50 meters behind the neighboring dutch swimmer, Hogshead kept the tempo in the final stretch and earned a tie-victory with fellow teammate, 16-year-old Carrie Steinseifer, in which they were both awarded gold medals. After all, 55.92 seconds was all she needed to finally reach the Mount Everest of athletic achievements.
That same day Hogshead anchored the 4x100 Meter Freestyle Relay. With a terrific performance in the last 50 meters, she safeguarded the precarious lead to earn herself the second gold medal. She went on to anchor another gold-medal run for the United States in the 4x100 Meter Medley Relay and showcased her versatility as a swimmer by finishing second-place in 200 Meter Medley behind Tracy Caulkins, capping off her only Olympics with four medals.
Hogshead was the first woman to be inducted into the Duke Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. Now CEO of Champion Women, an organization that advocates for gender equality in sports, she continues to inspire after a legendary athletic career.