The Harris County Houston Sports Authority announced the next class of inductees to the Houston Sports Hall of Fame and it's a trio of several of Houston's most famous gold medalists.
Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, 2-time NBA champion Rudy Tomjanovich and the first American woman to win the all-around gold medal, gymnast Mary Lou Retton are headed to the Houston Sports Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony will be held January 21, 2020 at the Hilton-Americas downtown.
“I’m humbled completely with this honor,’’ Retton said. “It’s been almost 40 years since I won my gold medal in the Olympics in ’84. It’s very humbling to be recognized so many years later."
Retton won five medals at the 1984 Olympic games and is the first woman to be inducted in the Houston Sports Hall of Fame.
Lewis was named Olympian of the Century by Sports Illustrated and is arguably the greatest track and field athlete of all time. The former University of Houston star and current assistant coach, won nine Olympic gold medals and eight gold medals at the Outdoor World Championships and set the 100-meter world record 1991, holding it until fellow Cougar and current UH track coach Leroy Burrell broke it in 1994.
“I’ll tell you, it’s really, really special,’’ Lewis said. “This past August it was be 40 years since I walked
onto this (University of Houston) campus (as a freshman). Everything that’s great that’s happened to me as an adult has happened in Houston. I’ve lived here, I’ve been part of the city, I’ve been part of this university. And it’s really, really special to be in the Hall.’’
Lewis, now 58, won four gold medals at the ’84 Games (100, 200, long jump and 4 X100 relay) to equal Jesse Owens’ feat in 1936. He is also one of just three athletes to win gold medals in the same event for four consecutive Olympics, winning the long jump in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996.
Tomjanovich played his entire career for the Houston Rockets, then coached the team to back-to-back NBA titles for the city’s first world championships in 1994 and 1995. Following his team’s sweep of
Orlando in the 1995 championship, Tomjanovich delivered an iconic admonishment to those who doubted his team, saying “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion.”
“I was very surprised,’’ Tomjanovich said.
“Of course, I’m humbled. It means a lot to me, especially because it’sHouston. I lived here, I was part of that fan base for the Oilers, Astros and our basketball team. To get those championships and to be recognized by the city’s hall of fame is fantastic.”
He was the second player taken in the 1970 draft and averaged 17.4 points a game over his 11-year playing career. He finished his NBA coaching career with a 527-416 record and coached the U.S. to Olympic gold in 2000 in Sydney.