Hall of Fame

Alice Coachman

Track and Field

Olympian in London 1948 Olympic Games

Born:
November 9, 1923
Birthplace:
Albany, Georgia
Died:
July 14, 2014
College:
Tuskegee Institute
Albany State College

hall of fame

Alice Coachman

Track and Field

Olympian in London 1948 Olympic Games

Born:
November 9, 1923
Birthplace:
Albany, Georgia
Died:
July 14, 2014
College:
Tuskegee Institute
Albany State College
Alice Coachman first won a national title in 1939; in 1940 and 1944 The Olympics were canceled because of World War II. Coachman finally won gold in the high jump at the London 1948 Olympic Games.
SHARE

Alice Coachman traveled a long route to become the first Black woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal.

Coachman grew up in southwest Georgia during an era of racial segregation, which meant that she rarely had access to athletic facilities, often running on dirt roads (sometimes barefoot) and creating her own hurdles to practice jumping. At a time when female athletes often were frowned on, Coachman’s parents were not supportive of her interest in sports.

My father wanted me to be more like a young lady, sitting on the porch,” Coachman said.

And even when Coachman achieved success – winning the first of a remarkable 10 consecutive AAU outdoor high jump titles in 1939, at age 15 – she was unable to perform on a national stage: in 1940 and 1944, the Olympic Games were canceled because of World War II.

Still, Coachman persevered. She had attended Tuskegee Institute and Albany State College and made her Olympic debut at the London 1948 Olympic Games, where she set American and Olympic records with a successful first attempt at 5 feet 6 1/8 inches. She was the only American woman to win a gold medal at the London 1948 Olympic Games – presented to her by King George VI — and her success paved the way for other Black American female track stars.

“I made a difference among the Blacks, being one of the leaders,” Coachman said. “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.”

Coachman retired from competition after the London 1948 Olympic Games. She raised a family and became a teacher. In 1952, Coca-Cola hired her to become a spokesperson.

Coachman passed away in 2014. She was 90.



MEDAL RESULTS
1948LondonHigh JumpGold

TICKETS NOW

ON SALE

DISCOUNTS FOR MILITARY, FIRST RESPONDERS, SENIORS, GROUPS AND MORE!​
RELATED GALLERY
connect with us
NEXT UP
Lindsey Vonn is considered one of the greatest Olympic ski racers. She is the only American woman to win an Olympic downhill gold and grab four world cup overall titles.
Michael Phelps, with an astounding 6 feet, 7-inch wingspan, won an Olympic record 28 medals, which included 23 golds, more than double any other Olympic athlete.
After her Olympic dream was postponed, Gretchen Fraser became the first American to win an alpine skiing medal.
Swimmer Erin Popovich is a three-time Paralympian; 14 of her 19 Paralympic medals were golds. She is a two-time winner of the ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete with a Disability.