Like a shooting star, sprinter Valerie Brisco-Hooks shone for a glorious moment in the public’s eye before speeding away to enjoy family life. While she shone, however, Brisco-Hooks burned especially bright. In the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Brisco-Hooks accomplished what no other athlete, man or woman, had ever done by winning gold medals in 200- and 400-meter races in the same Olympic Games. She capped her starring performance by running a leg on the United States women’s 4×400 meter relay team and capturing her third gold medal of the games. Valerie furthered her collection of medals in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, where she achieved a silver medal in the 4×400-meter relay, and in the 1987 World Games where she again aided her team in receiving a bronze medal in the 4×400 relay.
Though she was born in the heart of the rural South in Greenwood, Mississippi, Brisco-Hooks moved with her family to an urban ghetto—the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles (also known as South Central) with her nine siblings.
Her father was a metal worker and her mother taught school at Locke High School. One of Brisco-Hooks’s older brothers, Robert, was a star runner at Locke. Valerie continued to excel in her track career at the collegiate level while she attended California State-Northridge. In 1979, she won 200-meter final in the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) championships. In that same year she represented the United States at the Pan-American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, winning a gold medal. By early 1984, Brisco-Hooks was back in better form than she had ever been. She won the national 200-yard indoor crown and that summer captured the 400-meter outdoor title. At the Olympic trials, Brisco-Hooks qualified to represent the U.S. in the individual 200- and 400-meter races and the 4×400-meter relay. When the 1984 Olympics began Brisco-Hooks aimed to do what no athlete had ever accomplished.
In 1995, she was inducted into USA Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Over the years, Valerie established the Valerie Brisco Hooks Sports Foundation and has been actively involved in developing and supporting youth through peer-to-peer sports clinics, as well as mentoring inter-city youth through educational programs. She currently enjoys nurturing future Olympians as a member of the track and field coaching staff at West Los Angeles College in Culver City, California.