Jul 14, 2014, 6:16 PM EDT
Alice Coachman, the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, died at age 90 in Albany, Ga., on Monday morning.
Coachman, the 1948 Olympic high jump champion, suffered a stroke in April and died at an Albany hospital, according to Albany’s NBC affiliate.
Coachman won the first of her 10 straight national titles at age 16 in 1939, according to USA Track and Field, but missed the 1940 and 1944 Olympics due to World War II.
“In 1944, I was really ready,” Coachman told The Associated Press in 1996. “I had won the 50-yard dash in the national AAU six consecutive years and the 200 two years straight. I was right at my peak in 1944. I could have won at least two gold medals there.”
Her only Olympic appearance came in London in 1948, when she won gold with an Olympic record jump of 5 feet, 6 1/4 inches before the Fosbury Flop was introduced. King George VI presented the gold medal to her. She made it to and from London by ship.
“Many times I’ve been to places where I’ll tell them I was the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, and they’ll look at me like I’m crazy,” Coachman told the AP. “They’ll say, ‘You won it? No, you didn’t win it. It was that other girl who won it.'”
Coachman referred to Wilma Rudolph, who won triple sprint gold at the Rome 1960 Olympics.
Coachman, one of 10 children, grew up in Georgia during segregation and broke high school and college high jump records without wearing shoes, according to the AP. Her lucky charms were lemons. She sucked on them in competitions when her mouth ran dry.
She returned home from the London Olympics to a segregated victory ceremony, with blacks and whites on separate sides of the building. The white mayor would not shake her hand.
In 1952, Coca-Cola made her the first black female athlete to endorse an international product. She said she made $500.
Sep 2, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT
Olympic champ figure skater yet to make official decision, but shows which way he is leaning.
Sep 2, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT
Would he rather race fast cars or cheetahs?
Sep 2, 2014, 7:41 AM EDT
Schild won silver behind Shiffrin in Sochi and is one of her idols.
Sep 1, 2014, 2:37 PM EDT
Lewis joins staff with two other Olympic sprint medalists.
Sep 1, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT
Germany is the latest rival to a potential U.S. Olympic bid in 2024.
Sep 1, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT
Seven from Nigeria, two from Sierra Leone out due to Uzbekistan’s restrictions.
Sep 1, 2014, 10:44 AM EDT
Olympic silver medalist swam three days after suffering allergic reaction to jellyfish sting.
Aug 30, 2014, 5:27 PM EDT
American overcame a 69-second deficit, passing 19 women on the 10km run to cap dominating season.
Aug 29, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT
Olympic champion cites “medical reasons” hours before weigh-in.
Aug 29, 2014, 1:44 PM EDT
Statistically, the U.S. might be better off not winning in Spain in the Olympic scope.
Aug 29, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT
Olympic champion missed 2013 Worlds after knee surgery.
Aug 29, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
An accountant five years ago, triathlete is dominating after Olympic disappointment.
Aug 28, 2014, 4:56 PM EDT
Allyson Felix, David Rudisha beaten in first of two Diamond League finals meets.
Aug 28, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
Steen and Peder Mondrup completed the Ironman Copenhagen in 15 hours.
Aug 28, 2014, 11:12 AM EDT
Olympic Flag handed over to Buenos Aires, host of 2018 Youth Olympics.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:37 AM EDT
Officials looking for 70,000 people over the Olympics and Paralympics.
Aug 27, 2014, 4:44 PM EDT
Chinese basketball star also updates on what he’s been doing in retirement.
Aug 27, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
IOC president sits down with Lewis Johnson at Youth Olympics.
Aug 27, 2014, 1:52 PM EDT
How can we apply the results looking ahead to the Rio Olympics?
Aug 27, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT
Diamond Races up for grabs, plus Gay vs. Powell in the 100m.
- Evan Lysacek: ‘My career is coming to an end’ 0
- Usain Bolt takes on all questions in India 0
- Haley Anderson wins Pan Pacs open-water 10K by .01 after jellyfish sting, move to Maui 0
- Gwen Jorgensen wins World Championship in triathlon 0
- How the FIBA World Cup impacts the Olympics 0
- Gwen Jorgensen’s glory awaits in Edmonton 0
- Tyson Gay last place in Zurich; Jenny Simpson leads U.S. winners (video) 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (57)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (38)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)