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Star Athletes With Asthma

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Credit: LIFE.com

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Jackie Joyner-Kersee

This track-and-field star, four-time Olympian, and three-time gold medalist was diagnosed with asthma as a freshman at UCLA. She was playing basketball and running track at the time and couldn’t catch her breath after strenuous workouts. Afraid of losing her scholarship, Joyner-Kersee would duck into the bathroom to hide her condition from her coaches and teammates.

Even after a doctor diagnosed her with asthma, Joyner-Kersee didn’t take her medication consistently—and as a result she suffered a life-threatening asthma attack years later. "I finally learned I had to respect asthma as much as I would an opponent,” Joyner-Kersee told Sports Illustrated for Women, which in 2000 named her the top female athlete of all time.

Next: Amy Van Dyken

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