EPITAPH : ALICE COACHMAN

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Welcome to Epitaph for D’s Art Takes. Here we present the creative legacies of influential people, who are no longer among us. Today we invite you to take a look at the life of the American athlete Alice Coachman.

Alice Coachman was born in 1923 in Albany, Georgia. A runner and athlete from a young age, Coachman trained herself until she was a teenager. She did not have the same opportunities children around her took for granted. But this did not deter her spirit. It was only in high school that Harry E. Lash took her under his wing to train her. Lash was the coach of the boys’ track team. And he recognised Coach’s strength, stamina and passion.

In the late 30s, Coachman was offered a scholarship by the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. By this time, she had already won amateur national-level awards for high jump. For almost a decade, Coachman was the star at the ¬†Amateur Athletic Union’s high jump championships.

The First of Many : Alice Coachman

In 1948, Alice Coachman became the first black woman to ever win a gold medal at the Olympics. She jumped an unbelievable 5 feet, 6 1/8 inches.

Upon her return from the London Olympics, Coachman retired from competitions. In 1952, she also became the first black woman to sign an endorsement deal with cola giant, the Coca-Cola Company.

Coachman’s determination and talent inspired several aspiring atheletes. The gold medalist even established the Alice Coachman Track and Field Foundation. Through the foundation, she helped young athletes to pursue their dreams.

At the 1996 Summer Olympics, Coachman declared one of the 100 most influential Olympians of all time. Even after her retirement, she was remained a celebrated figure in the world of athletics.

Coachman died in 2014.


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