5 things you need to know about Alice Coachman, first black woman to win Olympic gold at 24

Theodora Aidoo Jul 31, 2020 at 02:00pm

July 31, 2020 at 02:00 pm | History, Women

Theodora Aidoo

Theodora Aidoo | Staff Writer

July 31, 2020 at 02:00 pm | History, Women

Alice Coachman of the United States, after winning the high jump at Wembley Stadium during the 1948 London Olympics.
Pic Credit: Associated Press

History Making Moment

Coachman was initially reluctant to compete at the Olympic Games, but eventually agreed to attend the trials and when she did, she smashed the existing national high jump record, despite a back injury.

The day after Audrey Patterson’s historic Bronze medal, Coachman became the first black woman from any country to win a gold medal in track and field. She surpassed the Olympic record of 5 feet, 4 3/4 inches held jointly by Americans Jean Shiley and Babe Didrikson since the 1932 Olympics.

About 83,000 spectators reportedly watched Coachman’s Aug. 7, 1948, victory as she competed against Dorothy Tyler of Great Britain. They both jumped the same height, but the American was given the nod because Tyler had several misses at lower heights.

King George VI presented Coachman with her gold medal. Four years later, Coachman became the first black female athlete to endorse an international consumer product when she was signed up to promote Coca-Cola.

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