Alice Coachman Davis dead: First black woman to win Olympic gold medal dies aged 90
The sportswoman won gold at the 1948 games in London
Tuesday 15 July 2014
Alice Coachman Davis, the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, has died, aged 90.
Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Evelyn Jones.
Born in Albany, Georgia, Davis won gold in the high jump during the 1948 games in London, jumping 1.68-metres. She was, in fact, the only US woman to win gold at that specific competition and was celebrated with a 175-mile motorcade in Georgia.
However, black and white audiences were segregated at the official ceremony in her hometown, Albany.
She retired at the age of 25, after her big win. The sportswoman was sure that she would have scooped medals at the 1940 and 1944 Olympics, but these were cancelled due to World War II.
“I know I would have won in 1944, at least,” she said. “I was starting to peak then. It really feels good when Old Glory is raised and the National Anthem is played.”
She also won 25 national athletics championships - including 10 consecutive high jump titles - between 1939 and 1948, according to USA Track and Field.
Davis also played basketball for Tuskegee University, with her team winning three straight conference titles.
During her childhood, she faced obstacles because of her race. Although these could have hindered her sporting career, Davis found a way round them
According to The New Georgia Encyclopedia, she was forbidden from using public sports facilities, so used whatever equipment she could find to practise her jumping.
“My dad did not want me to travel to Tuskegee and then up north to the Nationals,” Davis told the AP. “He felt it was too dangerous. Life was very different for African-Americans at that time. But I came back and showed him my medal and talked about all the things I saw. He and my mom were very proud of me.”
Davis was inducted to the USA Track and Field Hall of fame in 1975 and the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004.
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