Mary Joe Fernandez

Breathing life into the game

Breathing life into the game

If you compiled a roster of world-class athletes with asthma, the list would be long — and impressive. From marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, to former NBA stars Dennis Rodman and Dominique Wilkins, to tennis star Mary Joe Fernandez and Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, asthmatics have set records and won medals in nearly every sport imaginable.

"I never thought of asthma as an obstacle," said retired swimmer Amy Van Dyken, the first American woman to win four gold medals in one Olympic Games (1996). Her 2000 Olympic teammate Misty Hyman, also an asthmatic, said that throughout her career, asthma was simply something to overcome — another training...