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Gary Hall, Jr.

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Personal Info

Born On:  September 26, 1974
Hometown:  Cincinnati, OH
Resides:  Santa Barbara, CA
Height:  6'6"

Biography

Gary Hall Jr. is one of the most decorated American swimmers in history, with 10 Olympic medals, three World Championships, and three Olympic teams to his name.

But Gary Hall Jr. the personality far outshone any of his Olympic accomplishments.

His first introduction to the world was at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.  Hall was a relative novice in the sport of swimming - he'd only gotten serious about it 6 years prior - but had already caused enough waves in the sport to catch the attention of the ultra-serious Alexander Popov, the world's best sprinter at the time. With the tensions between the Americans and the Russians still thawing, Hall got into a war of words in the media with Popov. With the head-to-head battle looming, Hall walked out on deck in leather motorcycle pants, and proceeded to box an invisible opponent and flex big for the home crowd. He ended up taking silver medals in both of those races, and with that the Gary Hall hysteria had begun.

The pre-race antics became his trademark in the swimming world. Boxing robes replaced more traditional warmups as he walked out to the blocks. He always made sure that the whole arena was enjoying his show. His personal way of preparing for his races is a big contrast to the head-phoned-focus of today's top athletes, but it was quintessentially Gary. It worked for him, and it worked for the swimming fans, who were always on the edge of their seats to see how he would emerge for his next race.

It was perhaps this unique individuality that allowed him to overcome one of his greatest challenges in life. In 1999, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at a time when most of his competitors were staring intently at the 2000 Olympics.

But in true Gary Hall fashion, he ducked, he weaved, he dodged, and he stepped on the blocks at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials and threw a punch right back at life. He broke a 10-year old American Record in the 50 free, and then went on to win gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. His relaxed ability to accept challenges head-on and conquer them is what won him both countless awards, and countless fans.

As an athlete, the sprinting legend brought an edge and a demeanor to the Olympic Games that pulled a whole generation of sports fans into the sport of swimming. He gives the utmost respect to Olympic medals and those who hold them. Yet, he never forgot what the core of the sport was: to enjoy, to soak-in the moment, to be larger-than-life, and to live on the only stage big enough to hold him: the Olympic Games.

For sprinters to accomplish great things, they need to be sharp in every aspect of their race, and Hall's ability to inhale the atmosphere and condition of a race and use it to his advantage, rather than be distracted by it, made him one of the best.