LIFESTYLE

Alice Coachman Davis, First Black Woman To Win An Olympic Gold Medal, Dies Aged 90

15/07/2014 12:53 BST | Updated 15/07/2014 12:59 BST

Today the world of sport is made up of a gloriously diverse group of people, but when Alice Coachman Davis won Olympic gold, she made headlines not only for her sporting achievement, but also for of the colour of her skin.

Alice was the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal. And she died early Monday after suffering a cardiac arrest in South Georgia at the age of 90.

The athlete made history in the high jump at the 1948 games in London, jumping an Olympic record of 1.68 meters (5.51 feet).

alice coachman davis

She was was inducted to the USA Track and Field Hall of fame in 1975, and was inducted to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004.

Growing up in the deep South during a time of segregation, Alice's sporting career had a difficult start.

Previously speaking to The Kansas City Star, the record-breaker said: “You had to run up and down the red roads and the dirt roads.

"You went out there in the fields, where there was a lot of grass and no track. No nothing.”

Alice has been applauded for leading the way for female African-American Olympic track stars like Wilma Rudolph, Evelyn Ashford, Florence Griffith Joyner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

In 1996 she told The New York Times: “I made a difference among the blacks, being one of the leaders.

“If I had gone to the Games and failed, there wouldn’t be anyone to follow in my footsteps. It encouraged the rest of the women to work harder and fight harder.”

alice coachman davis

Recollecting her career in an interview with The Associated Press in 2004, Alice speculated that she could have won even more Olympic medals, but the Olympics weren't held in 1940 or 1944 because of World War II.

"I know I would have won in 1944, at least. I was starting to peak then. It really feels good when Old Glory is raised and the National Anthem is played," she said.

Alice may have retired at the age of 25 after winning the gold medal in London, but the world of sport was changed forever.

RIP, Alice.

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