High-SchoolGirl: Merlene Ottey

Gail DeversAlexander Hassenstein/Getty Images"If you have a love for life, and opportunities are presented to you, you make the best of those opportunities," Gail Devers says.
ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years

Forget her colorful fingernails. Gail Devers' true signature was breaking the hearts of her fiercest rivals.

Devers, one of the greatest sprinters in Olympic history and No. 30 in ESPN's countdown, certainly had a flair for the dramatic.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Devers won gold in the 100 meters by beating Jamaica's Juliet Cuthbert in a photo finish. The next year, at the world championships, she won the 100 after besting Cuthbert's Jamaican compatriot, Merlene Ottey, in another photo finish. And at the 1996 Atlanta Games, Devers did it again, crossing the line in exactly the same time as Ottey, but winning gold thanks to the help of a high-speed camera.

"She's the person who never stops trying," said Greece's Voula Patoulidou, the gold medalist in the 100-meter hurdles in Barcelona.

Read the complete story from espnW here.

Earlier in this series:
No. 40: Diver Fu Mingxia
No. 39: Jockey Julie Krone
No. 38: Gymnast Mary Lou Retton
No. 37: Hockey player Cammi Granato
No. 36: Soccer player Kristine Lilly
No. 35: Basketball player Diana Taurasi
No 34: Volleyball player Flo Hyman
No. 33: Soccer player Abby Wambach
No. 32: Swimmer Mary T. Meagher
No. 31: Marathoner Joan Benoit