#70SportWays (43): Alice Coachman Davis, heroine at 1948 Olympics
Alice Coachman Davis (November 9th, 1923 – July 14th, 2014) was an American athlete. She specialized in high jump and was the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Raised in the segregated South, she was unable to access athletic training facilities or participate in organised sports because of the colour of her skin Added to the list of training barriers was her status as a female athlete during a time of widespread opposition to women in sport.
She trained using what was available to her running shoeless along the dirtroads near her home and using homemade equipment to practice her jumping. When she was 15, in Tuskegee, Alabama. In 1939, she drew the attenion of the Tuskegee Institute joined and she joined it after being offered a scholarship. The scholarship required her to work while studying and training, which included cleaning and maintaining sports facilities as well as mending uniforms.
Alice dominated in US outdoor high jump championship from 1939 through 1948, winning ten national championships in a row. Due to the Second World War, Coachman’s first opportunity to compete on a global stage was only during the 1948 Olympic Games in London In the high jump finals of the 1948 Summer Olympics, Coachman leaped 1.68 on her first try, becoming the only American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics in 1948.