Michelle Akers (1966) is an American soccer player in the National Soccer Hall of Fame, starring in the Women's World Cup in 1991 and 1999 in which the US was victorious. She played with her team in the 1996 Summer Olympics, winning gold. She shares the FIFA Female Player of the Century (an award created by FIFA to decide the greatest female football player of the 20th century) with Sun Wen, a Chinese player.
In the spring of 1991, Akers was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction (CFIDS) (now known as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). She changed her diet, training schedule, and field position, but was never able to fully recover. A bio on FIFA.com describes Akers’ game as being "marked by fierce determination as she played through bone-weary exhaustion and debilitating migraines. Her locker room celebrations were often spent attached to an oxygen mask, an IV, and an EKG machine." She retired prior to the 2000 Olympics because of injuries and her illness.
Sports writer, Mike Jensen, wrote: "Akers has experienced many of the worst symptoms chronic fatigue syndrome has to offer: the killer migraines, the dizziness. She once collapsed on the field. There are times she has been unable to get out of bed. She occasionally has needed help to get to the bathroom to vomit. And, as Akers said in testimony before Congress in 1996, 'The irony of the illness [is], the harder you work, the more it drags you down, the more it disables you.'"
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- Jensen,Mike. (27 June 1999). Illness Cannot Stop Soccer Star Akers A Strict Diet And Rest Keep Her In The Game. philly.com Retrieved from http://articles.philly.com/1999-06-27/sports/25499414_1_chronic-fatigue-syndrome-mia-hamm-michelle-akers
- Akers, Michelle and Lewis, Gregg. (2000). The Game and the Glory. Zondervan Publishing Company ISBN-10: 0310235294 ISBN-13: 978-0310235293