Jul 14, 2014, 6:16 PM EST
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.
Nov 28, 2014, 9:24 AM EST
Japanese site could break a 46-year Winter Olympic streak.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:47 AM EST
Tikhonov died earlier this week at 84 after a long illness.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:32 AM EST
Olympic champion’s status for World Championships in January is unclear.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:15 AM EST
Olympic champion hopes to return for Beaver Creek next weekend.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:03 AM EST
Grand Prix final picture includes plenty of Americans.
Nov 26, 2014, 1:06 PM EST
Full schedule of coverage across World Cups, Grand Prix events and World Championships.
Nov 26, 2014, 7:42 AM EST
Sister-brother team had bronze medals, but the official results didn’t reflect that until Tuesday.
Nov 25, 2014, 1:19 PM EST
Neither has competed since the London Olympics.
Nov 25, 2014, 10:46 AM EST
Scheduling conflicts, another new event?
Nov 25, 2014, 9:27 AM EST
Christ the Redeemer, Olympic motto honored on the coins.
Nov 24, 2014, 10:23 PM EST
Phelps is working toward 2015 goals, a North Baltimore official said.
Nov 24, 2014, 3:52 PM EST
An MRI and bone scan showed no structural damage.
Nov 24, 2014, 11:25 AM EST
Canada won its first men’s hockey Olympic gold in 50 years under Quinn.
Nov 24, 2014, 10:11 AM EST
Olympic champion Shields was named the tournament’s best overall boxer.
Nov 24, 2014, 9:17 AM EST
Tikhonov led the Soviets in the Miracle on Ice game.
Nov 24, 2014, 8:42 AM EST
Sun tested positive for a substance he could have used legally if he filed paperwork with anti-doping officials.
Nov 23, 2014, 9:27 PM EST
Public vote to name the mascots.
Nov 23, 2014, 8:38 PM EST
Video of how he suffered the injury was posted on Ligety’s social media.
Nov 22, 2014, 4:24 PM EST
It’s unlikely a U.S. man will qualify for the Grand Prix Final.
Nov 22, 2014, 9:05 AM EST
“i just don’t want to puke,” Wagner said.
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