Three-time Olympic gold medalist Debbie Meyer will be inducted into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night, one of five inductees into the class of 2014 in the Hall of Fame’s second year of existence.
At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, while Dick Fosbury revolutionized his backward-flopping high jump technique; Bob Beamon broke the World Record in the long jump by 22 inches; and the IOC introduced doping tests for the first time (with the first disqualification going to a Swedish pentathlete who drank several beers before competing), a 16-year old named Debbie was rewriting the books on swimming.
She won gold medals in the 200, 400, and 800 freestyles, which made her the first swimmer to ever win three gold medals in a single Olympics. She remains the only swimmer to win three individual freestyle golds in one Olympic Games, showing off an incredible range.
The 1968 Olympic Games was the first to offer the women’s 800 free, and by winning it, Meyer tipped off a legendary run, which with Katie Ledecky taking up the torch still hasn’t ended over 40 years later, of American teenagers dominating the event.
Alongside Hesse, inductees in this year’s class include former pro football player Tedy Bruschi, 5-time MLB all star Steve Sax; baseball player Leron Lee; and 1984 Olympic swimming 800 free relay gold medalist Jeff Float.
Being in only its second year, the Hall of Fame is still working through a backlog of historic faces in Sacramento sports and hasn’t yet been watered down by the need to induct someone every year. Among the inductees in the first class include NBA players Bill Cartwright and Kevin Johnson, and another swimmer Summer Sanders.