Trailblazer Black Female Olympians

Wilma Rudolph at the Rome 1960 Olympics

Wilma Rudolph at the Rome 1960 Olympics

Emma Davis Foley, Reporter, Editor

When thinking about the grand Olympics, we think about the best of the best in sports. Audrey Patterson, Alice Coachman Davis, and Wilma Rudolph were three of the many African American women trailblazer Olympians. 

Audrey Patterson was the first African American woman to ever win a medal for the USA in the Olympics. She participated in the 200-meter dash in 1948 at the London games, resulting in winning a bronze metal. Audrey was only one of nine African American females to participate in the London games. A year later, in 1949, she was named the “Woman Athlete of the Year” by the Amateur Athletic Union.

Audrey, alongside coach Eddie Robinson, being inducted into the Sugar Bowl Greater New Orleans Hall of Fame

Alice Coachman was the first woman of color to ever win a gold in the olympic games. She was the first black woman in any country to win a gold metal in the track and field events. Alice participated in the London 1948 Olympics, winning the high jump competition for the USA team. After the games, President Truman awarded her and her town a 175-mile log motorcycle parade in her honor through her home town Albany, New York.

Alice Coachman, first African American woman to win a gold metal

Wilma Rudolph was the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympic games. She participated in the 1960 Rome Olympics earning these three gold medals, previously having participated in the 1956 Australian Olympics earning one bronze in the same event. Wilma triumphed all, as a child she had polio and was told she was never to walk again, then at her highest point in her career she was labeled the “fastest woman in the world.”

These three women lit the way for female Black Olympians, such as the world renowned gymnast Simon Biles, gymnast Gabby Douglas, and bobsledder Vonetta Flowers.