Gymnastics trailblazer, Dianne Durham, is to be inducted into the USA Gymnastics 2021 Hall of Fame.
During the 1983 national championships, Durham made history, paving the way for generations of aspiring Black gymnasts. Durham secured the all-around title en route to four gold medals (balance beam, floor exercise and vault) and a silver medal (uneven bars).
She died on Feb. 4, 2021
“As an icon and trailblazer in our sport, Dianne opened doors for generations of gymnasts who came after her, and her legacy carries on each day in gyms across the country,” USA Gymnastics president Li Li Leung said in a statement in February. “Our thoughts are with her friends and family during this difficult time.”
For Durham’s husband, Tom Drahozal, the news invokes mixed feelings.
“It’s so rewarding that she’s finally got the recognition that she deserved,” said Drahozal, Durham’s husband. “It’s so sad that she won’t be there to pick up her own award.”
“She never thought this day would come when she was still alive,” he said. “So for her, if she were alive to see it happen, that would be the first thing she would have said, that I can’t believe this actually happened.”
Durham retired from the sport in 1985.
Durham blazed the trail for Black female Olympic gymnasts, including Dominique Dawes, who in 1996 became the first Black gymnast to win an individual event at the Olympics. Sixteen years later, Gabby Douglas made history when she became the first Black gymnast to win the 2012 Olympics’ all-around champion’s title — and Simone Biles continues to break records.