A closer look


Black athletes have played a big role in Team USA's success

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic history is full of Black athletes, heroes, pioneers, and trailblazers. Without these stories, the history of Team USA is incomplete.

There were many sacrifices and difficult choices that Black athletes faced. Despite these obstacles, black athletes keep pushing the boundaries, surpassing expectations, and inspiring the world with perseverance. 

From George Poage, the first Black American to win an Olympic medal, to Leroy Walker, the first black American to coach a U.S. Olympic team, here is a closer look at some of these stories featured in the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum.

LeRoy Walker

LeRoy Walker was the first Black American to coach a U.S. Olympic Team, guiding the men’s track and field team to six gold medals in the Montreal 1976 Olympics.

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Teresa Edwards

One of the great shooters of her generation, Teresa Edwards played in five Olympic Games and led the U.S. women’s basketball team to four gold medals.

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Wilma Rudolph

Despite being told she would never walk again, Wilma Rudolph won three track and field gold medals at the Rome 1960 Olympic Games.

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