Fountain narrowly missed a berth on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, finishing fourth in the heptathlon at the Olympic Trials. She left nothing to chance in 2008. Scoring personal bests in five of the seven events she won the Trials with a career-high 6,667 points. She led all Olympic competitors after Day One in Beijing before finishing third with 6,619. She was upgraded to the silver medal after Lyudmila Blonska was disqualified due to a failed drug test. Fountain was poised to continue her success in 2009, leading the U.S. Championships through five events before withdrawing due to a neck injury.
The waiting is the hardest part:
Fountain’s mother introduced Hyleas to the heptathlon at age seven, but the sport wasn’t available in Pennsylvania high school meets, so she had to wait until college to try the seven-event competition. In the meantime, she was the USA Junior high jump champion in 2000 with a leap of 1.83 meters (6 feet). As a child Fountain used two-time Olympic heptathlon gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s success as an inspiration while awaiting her chance for heptathlon fame.
Fountain won five National Junior College Athletic Association championships and finished second three times for Barton Community College in 2001-02, including two NJCAA outdoor heptathlon titles. After transferring to Georgia, Fountain won the NCAA heptathlon championship in 2003 and placed second in 2004. She won the long jump and the pentathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships as a senior and won the long jump again at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Fountain came from behind to win her first U.S. championship in 2005, moving from fourth after the first day’s events to win with 6,028 points. She won her second national title in 2007 with 6,090 points.
- Height: 5-7
- Weight: 140
- Birth date: January 14, 1981
- Hometown: Enola, Pa.
- Personal best: 6,667 points (heptathlon); 4,731 (pentathlon)