There have been so many incredible athletes who’ve competed and poured their everything into the Olympic Games.
One of those athletes was Alice Coachman, who was not only the only American woman to win a gold medal at the 1948 Olympic Games, but she was also the first-ever Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal.
Alice was born in Georgia in 1923. She was one of ten children and would take on several jobs as a kid to help support her family. Despite many sports being seen as inappropriate activities for young ladies back then, Alice started showing skills as an exceptional athlete at a young age.
Despite her father’s wishes, Alice played all kinds of sports growing up, including softball, baseball, and running.
A teacher inspired Alice to pursue a career as an athlete. Although she had no access to the more advanced training spaces, gyms, and facilities as white students due to segregation, it didn’t stop her from training and improving her running skills on her own.
In high school, Alice competed with her school’s track team and was invited to train at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Her excellent high school track career opened many doors for her and earned her a place in the Tuskegee Institute college division, where she studied dressmaking while competing on their track-and-field and basketball teams.
During her college track-and-field days, Alice won four national championships for high jumping and sprinting.
By the late 1930s, Alice was considered one of the best track-and-field athletes in the country. Her friends and family encouraged her to try out for the Olympic Games. When she finally did in the late 1940s, she broke a world record for jumping during the trials.
During the 1948 Summer Olympic Games held at Wembley Stadium in London, England, Alice competed in the high jump. On her first go, she cleared a 5-foot, 6 1/8-inch bar and earned a gold medal. It was quite a historical moment, as it made her the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal and the only American woman to win a gold medal that year.