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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Black Olympic History

On this last day of Black History Month, I'd like to post about the history of blacks in the Olympics. I'd actually like to shed light on some of the lesser mentioned athletes that paved the way for Olympic greats like Muhammed Ali, Flo Jo, Jackie Joyner Kersee,the Williams sisters and Carl Lewis. We all know the glory and the stories of these luminous Olympic legends, but you might not know about some of those that came first, and how hard they had to fight to even be allowed to compete in the games.

In 1904, George Poage and Joseph Stadler became the first blacks to compete in the Olympics, which were held in the US. Stadler won a silver and bronze medal in the long jump and Poage won a bronze medal for finishing third in the 400-meter hurdles. There is a bit of controversy regarding which is the first black person to win a medal at the games, since the order of the events is not well documented.

In London, 1908, the first black olympic athlete ever to win a gold medal was John Taylor, a member of the 1,600-meter relay team.

In 1924, William Dehart Hubbard became the first black American to win an individual gold medal in the long jump in Paris.

In 1932, Louise Stokes and Tydia Pickett became the first black women to make an Olympic team. However, when they arrived to compete in Los Angeles, they were replaced by white women. Stokes was replaced by a white female and prevented from competing once again when she made the 400-meter relay team in 1936.

In 1936, Jesse Owens won four gold medals in the 100-meters, 200-meters, long jump and 400-meter relay. His teammate, John Woodruff became the first to win a gold medal in the Berlin games.

In 1948 in London, Audrey Patterson became the first black woman to win a medal in the 200-meter. Alice Coachman was the first to win gold in the high jump.

In 1956, Milton Campbell was the first black person to win the decathlon in the Games in Melbourne, Australia.

Wilma Rudolph is the first woman to win three gold medals at one Olympiad, finishing first in the 100-meters, 200 meters, and 400-meter relay in Rome in 1960.

These, among many others, are the olympic athletes that paved the way for all the greats that came later. Back in their day, however, they had to deal with blatant racism, not only from stadium spectators, but from fellow athletes, team members and Olympic officials. Some even had to be assigned separate living accommodations during the games because white athletes did not want to room with them.
Many came home after winning their medals to experience scorn and resentment from some of their own countrymen instead of the admiration and accolades that Olympic heroes usually enjoy.
However, through all adversity, they came, they performed, and they competed their way into Olympic history.

Let's make sure they are not forgotten!

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bluecrystaldude said...

Wow.. Some of them are pretty impressive athletes. I am still waiting for my first country Olympic gold medalist :)

attygnorris said...

That is a long list of black champions, which should be inspirational to anyone. They should definitely not be forgotten.


Sudha said...

They are all really great Diva!!!Salute to those champions and really appreciate your mention about the lesser mentioned athletes!

iWalk said...

That's part of important history of Olympic. And people will remember them forever. :)

PaulsHealthBlog.com said...

I am a sports enthusiast. I've read many stories of black athletes who paved the way for the success of today's African-Americans.

It seems to me that many of today's athletes do not fully appreciate the sacrifices their predecessors made.


Eat Well. Live Well.

Increase Energy said...

Great blog post...Nice informative blog post

Web Site Design Dubai said...

Sports is a great thing & I am crazy about cricket.

Jana Victoria said...

Great post on this one it should be noted that their struggles should never be taken for granted.

Acai Berry Diet said...

One can truly appreciate history such as this. It's nice to see that people still sit up and take notice to some of the struggles that certain races have had to overcome. Plus, those are just some great athletes!

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