Women's Track and Field would not be what it is today if it weren't for the many outstanding black females who have contributed to the sport. One of the first to do so was a women by the name of Evelyn Ashford. Evelyn's career in track became an inspiration to all young girls and women who wanted to excel in sports.
Evelyn Ashford had had a talent for running all during her childhood, but she didn't run as often as she would have liked to because her father was in the Air Force and the family often moved. She did not get much experience training but when she was 13 she did spend a season on a team, in Alabama. The family then moved again, and Evelyn ended up going to high school in Roseviull, California.
Because there was no girls track team, Evelyn joined the boys track team. Her talent won her a scholarship to UCLA in 1975 where she impressed her coach from the first day of practice. Her coach, Pat Connolly, began training Ashford with the 1976 Olympics in mind. At 19 she placed fifth in the 100- meters race at the Montreal games. For the next two years, Ashford won a "double double" - both in the 100 and 200 meter events in the national college championship. Two years later she was world champion. She looked forward to he 1980 Olympics, where she hoped to win at least one gold medal. But political events ruined her dreams. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan. In protest, President Carter said the United States would not take part in the Olympics. This put an end to Evelyn's career for a while and she left track for one year. She wanted to think about her future and recovered from the torn leg muscles she received during one of her earlier races.
In 1981, she returned to the track ready to win a gold medal in the 1984 Los Angeles games. Evelyn had two goals. She achieved the first, by winning two gold medals, one in the 100-meter race, and the other in the 4x100 meter relay. Her second goal was to beat her rival, sprinter Marlies Gohn. But this had to wait because the Soviet Union did not send its team to the 1984 Olympics so Marlies did not run in the games. However, when Evelyn and Marlies did meet later that summer in Switzerland, Evelyn beat Marlies and set a new world record in the 100 meter race.
When Ashford took time off to have her baby in 1985, some people thought she might stop running. She proved them wrong by winning all but two races in 1986. She won a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics and helped the 400-meter relay team to a gold medal. In 1986 she became a sports commentator for the cable television program World Class Women. In 1988, Evelyn prepared for her third Olympics games in Seoul, South Korea where she came in second in the 100 meter race after her American team mate, Florence Griffith Joyner. In the 4x100 meter relay, she ran the anchor position for her team and Evelyn and her team mates won the gold medal. Evelyn competed in her fourth and final Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. As the oldest runner in the sprinting events, she won her fourth gold medal for the 4x100 meter relay. After a seventeen year athletic career, Evelyn retired from running, and is now a successful business person and mother.