Saturday, December 5, 2009



Brenda Morehead and Evelyn Ashford

Women's Track and Field would not be what it is today if it weren't for the many outstanding black females who have contributed to the sport. One of the first to do so was a women by the name of Evelyn Ashford. Evelyn's career in track became an inspiration to all young girls and women who wanted to excel in sports.
Evelyn Ashford had had a talent for running all during her childhood, but she didn't run as often as she would have liked to because her father was in the Air Force and the family often moved. She did not get much experience training but when she was 13 she did spend a season on a team, in Alabama. The family then moved again, and Evelyn ended up going to high school in Roseviull, California.
(“Running with Spirit” The Life of Evelyn Ashford By Luke D. and Sierra T at Black Biography Page)

Evelyn Ashford, Montreal 1979

Ashford was the only girl on the boys' high school track team in Roseville, CA, and she co-captained the team in her senior year. One of the first women to receive an athletic scholarship from UCLA, she finished fifth in the 100-meter dash at the 1976 Olympics the summer after her freshman year.
She won AIAW championships in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes and the 800-meter relay in 1977, repeated in the 200-meter and finished second in the 100-meter in 1978, then left school to train full-time for the 1980 Olympics.
Ashford won both short sprints in the 1979 World Cup championships, beating two East German world record holders, Marlies Gohr in the 100-meter and Marita Koch in the 200-meter. But, like many American athletes, she was bitterly disappointed by the U. S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
So she set her sights on the 1984 Olympics. She repeated her double sprint victories in the 1981 World Cup championships. However, after winning two previous heats in the 100-meter dash at the 1983 world championships, Ashford pulled her right hamstring muscle and fell in the finals.
The hamstring continued to bother her in 1984, going into the Olympics. She withdrew from the 200-meter in order to protect her injured leg and concentrate on the 100, where she edged Heike Drechsler of East Germany to win the gold medal she had sought for so long.
Ashford was known as being reserved and unemotional, but she was in tears through her victory lap and during the medal ceremony. She said afterward, "When I caught my first glimpse of the gold medal while I waited on the victory stand, I was emotionally overcome. I couldn't believe it was over. I couldn't stop crying."
That was the culmination of her career, but not nearly the end. Ashford was also on the gold medal 4 by 100-meter relay team and, two weeks later, she ran a world record 10.76 in the 100-meter in Zurich.
Ashford, Evelyn, Track and Field at

Evelyn Ashford, June 1983
International Athletics meeting
Los Angeles, U.S.A.
Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images

Evelyn Ashford, August 1983
1st World Athletics Championships
Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, Finland
Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images

Evelyn at Speed
National Sports Festival, 1/100th off a world mark
Publisher Los Angeles Times, Collection 1983
Patrick Downs, "Evelyn at Speed" POYi Archive

1984 Olympics, 4 x 100 metres Relay
Evelyn Ashford, USA anchors her team to victory
Coliseum Stadium in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Getty Images / Steve Powell / Allsport

Photo: Manny Millan/SI

By pekkavasala at photobucket

Photo: Manny Millan/SI

1884 Olympics
By pekkavasala at photobucket

Evelyn Ashford, 1984 Olympics
by dynette37 at Photobucket
© of George Herringshaw &

1984 Olympic Games, Los Angeles
Women's 100 Metres Final
Alice Brown, Evelyn Ashford and Marlene Ottey
Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images

Alice Brown, Evelyn Ashford and Marlene Ottey

By maroong at YouTube, LLC

Evelyn with her new baby
Aug 2, 1985, East Rutherford, New Jersey

1986 Goodwill Games, Moscow, USR
4 x 400m relay race
USA Evelyn Ashford (748)
Photo by Tony Tomsic/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Indianapolis, June 17, 1988

July 15, 1988, Indianapolis, Track & Field: US Olympic Trials
Evelyn Ashford, Florence Griffith Joyner and Gwen Torrence
Photo by George Tiedemann/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Opening Ceremonies, 1988 Summer Olympics
Evelyn Ashford, Seoul, South Korea Sept 17, 1988
USA track & field sprinter and national flag bearer
CREDIT: John W. McDonough
Photo by John W. McDonough /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

At the 1988 Summer Olympics, she was the flag bearer for the United States team at the Opening Ceremony. She was beaten in the 100 m by Florence Griffith Joyner, who had broken her World Record earlier in the season at the Olympic Trials. In the 4 x 100 m she again ran the final leg, winning her third Olympic gold medal. In spite of a sloppy exchange and being three metres down to the GDR team anchored by Gohr, she cruised to victory with a superb display of anchor leg running.
At her last Olympics, in Barcelona 1992 aged 35, Ashford was eliminated in the 100 m semi-finals by 1/ 100th of a second, she went on to win her third straight Olympic 4 x 100 m relay gold, this time running 1st leg. She is one of only four women to have won four gold medals for track and field in Olympic history.
(From Wikipedia)

100m Final, 1988 Olympics

The American team Seoul, Oct 1, 1988
Medal ceremony for the 4x100m relay
Sheila ECHOLS and Alice BROWN
source:IOC, From

Evelyn Ashford, 1991

Evelyn Ashford, 1992 Olympics, Barcelona


Olympics 1992, Barcelona, 4x100 m US Team

Since retiring after the 1992 Olympics, Ashford has served as a public speaker and has done Olympic advisory work for General Motors. She has also been a track and field commentator and has made public appearances for the U.S. Olympic Committee, although most of her time is devoted to being a mother to her daughter, Raina. She told Don Bosley of the Sacramento Bee in April 2000, "This is as close as I need to be to track and field. I am very satisfied with where I left the sport, what I accomplished in the sport." She also said that Wilma Rudolph was her inspiration as a girl. "I just wanted to get some Olympic gold medals," said Ashford. "I thought that was the highest accomplishment anybody could have was to get a gold medal. Even one."
Evelyn Ashford has been one of the most successful women sprinters in history, overcoming the obstacles of a lack of support for women in the sport during the early 1970s as well as the lost opportunity to participate in the 1980 Olympics. At only 5'5" tall, she was fiercely competitive on the track but warm and personable to everyone. Ashford has proved that being a wife and mother can be compatible with sustaining a record-breaking career in sports.
(Avelyn Ashford - Retirement at

Wilma Rudolph (USA) at 1960 Olympics
Born with polio, but developed into a world record breaker
Evelyn Ashford's inspiration as a girl

Evelyn Ashford, 2005

Overall, she was on 15 national teams during the period from 1976 to 1992, a very long career for a sprinter. She won 19 national titles, including six indoors.

Records Held
World Record: 100 m - 10.79
World Record: 100 m - 10.76 (August 22, 1984 - )
Olympic Record: 100 m - 10.97

1976 Olympics: 100 m (5th)
1984 Olympics: 100 m - 10.97 (1st)
1984 Olympics: 400 m relay (1st)
1988 Olympics: 100 m (2nd)
1988 Olympics: 400 m relay (1st)
1992 Olympics: 400 m relay (1st)
1979 World Cup: 100 m (1st)
1979 World Cup: 200 m (1st)
1981 World Cup: 100 m (1st)
1981 World Cup: 200 m (1st)
(From USA Track & Field, Inc.)

Career Highlights:
100m: 10.76 (WR)
200m: 21.83
400m: 51.08
Broke World Record twice:
1983: 10.79A
1984: 10.76
Broke American 100m Record 5 times:
1979: 11.07
1979: 10.97
1981: 10.90A
1983: 10.79A
1984: 10.76
Broke American 200m Record 3 times:
1979: 22.45
1979: 22.27
1979: 21.83
Olympic Gold Medal, 1984
Olympic Gold Medal 4x100m Relay
1984: 41.65
1988: 41.98
1992: 42.11
Olympic Silver Medal, 1988
Olympic 5th place finish, 1976
World Cup 100m Champion
1979: 11.06
1981: 11.02
World Cup 200m Champion
1979: 21.83
1981: 22.18
U.S. National Champion:
1977: 11.39w
1979: 11.01w
1981: 11.07
1982: 10.96
1983: 11.24
1977: 22.62
1978: 22.66
1979: 22.07w
1981: 22.30
1983: 21.88
Pan-Am Champion, 1979
100m: 11.07
200m: 22.24w
( Statistic from MT. SAN ANTONIO COLLEGE)

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