A history-making Olympic athlete has passed away at the age of 90.
According to the Associated Press, Alice Coachman Davis died Monday in Georgia. Competing in the high jump at the 1948 London games, Alice was the first Black woman to earn a gold medal at the Olympics. Alice was also the only American woman to get gold medal at those games.
She achieved the groundbreaking win by clearing a height of 5.51 feet, which is a record for the U.S.A. and the Olympics, according to USA Track and Field.
Davis was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of fame in 1975. Upon her induction in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004, Alice told the AP, “Going into the USOC Hall of Fame is as good as it gets.”
Alice didn’t think it would have taken her until 1948 to win gold at the Olympics had World War II not prevented the games from being held in 1940 and 1944. “I know I would have won in 1944, at least,” Alice said, recalling the moment she took in her hard-earned victory. “I was starting to peak then. It really feels good when Old Glory is raised and the National Anthem is played.”
Before her Olympic achievements, the athlete attended Tuskegee University where she also played basketball on a team that won three straight conference basketball titles. She won 25 national track and field championships — including 10 consecutive high jump titles — between 1939 and 1948, according to USA Track and Field.
“My dad did not want me to travel to Tuskegee and then up north to the Nationals,” she once 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.”
After she retired from sports, Davis remained a track coach and was a school teacher. An elementary school in her home town is named in her honor and opened in August 1999 according to Dougherty County schools officials.
The cause of Alice’s death has not been revealed, but Alice’s daughter Evelyn Jones confirmed her passing. The family is organizing a memorial service, but final plans have not been announced at this time.
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