First black woman to win Olympic gold dies in Ga.

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Alice Coachman Davis
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First black woman to win Olympic gold dies in Ga.
** FILE ** Alice Coachman of Albany, Ga., clears the bar at five feet to win the running high jump in the Women's National Track Meet in Grand Rapids, Iowa, July 6, 1948. Coachman, the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, will be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame during a ceremony Thursday, July 1, 2004, in Chicago. (AP Photo, File)
1948 Olympic Games, London, England, Women's High Jump, USA's Alice Coachman in action to win the gold medal with a new Olympic record jump (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Alice Coachman, a member of the track and field squad for the U.S. Women's Olympic Team during the 1948 Olympic Games in London, hands out chewing gum to a group of English youngsters at Southall, Middlesex, England, in a June 2, 1973 photo. (AP Photo)
President Harry S. Truman poses Oct. 22,1948 with a group of black women Olympic athletes, from left: Emma Reed of Tennessee State, Theresa Manuel of Tuskegee Institute, Audrey Patterson of Tennessee State, Truman, Nell Jackson of Tuskegee, Alice Coachman of Tuskeegee, Olympic high jump champion, and Mabel Walker of Tuskegee. (AP Photo/Bill Chaplis)
U.S. Olympic team member Alice Coachman arrives from London on the U.S.S. Washington into New York City on Aug. 27, 1948. Coachman became the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal with her win in the high jump in the 1948 Olympics in London. (AP Photo/John Rooney)
Fredric March, seated center, and his co-stars pose with members of the U.S. Olympic teams on the set of "Christopher Columbus" at Pinewood Studios, London, England, Aug. 9, 1948. March is seated between Alice Coachman, Albany, Ga., and Dorothy Dodson, of Mundelein, Ill. Athletes standing in rear, left to right, are, William Porter, Birmingham, Mich., directly behind March; Francis Delaney, San Francisco, California, and James E. Fuchs of Chicago. (AP Photo)
Alice Coachman, (center), of Albany, GA., stands on the winner's section of the Olympic podium at Wembley Stadium, Wembley, England, August 7, 1948, to receive the gold medal for winning the women's high jump. At left is D.J. Tyler of Great Britain, who placed second, and at right is M.O.M. Ostermeyer of France who placed third. Both Coachman and Tyler cleared the bar at 5 feet 6 inches. Summer Olympics London England 1948. (AP Photo)
Alice Coachman, member of the track and field squad of the U.S. Olympic team, hands out chewing gum to a group of English youngsters at Southall, Middlesex, England, July 26, 1948. (AP Photo)
** FILE ** U.S. Olympic team member Alice Coachman arrives from London on the U.S.S. Washington into New York City on Aug. 27, 1948. Coachman, the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, will be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame during a ceremony Thursday, July 1. in Chicago. (AP Photo/John Rooney, File).
Alice Coachman of Albany, Ga., winner of high jump event in Grand Rapids, Iowa, July 6, 1948. (AP Photo)
Alice Coachman of Tuskegee about to snap the tape to win the 100 meter run in the Woman's National AAU Track and Field championships, Aug. 5, 1946. Coming up a close second, left, is Stella Walsh, running for the Polish-Olympic WAC, Cleveland. (AP Photo)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Sports Broadcaster Jon Naber speaks to 1948 Olympic gold medalist Alice Coachman during the Team USA Road to London 100 Days Out Celebration in Times Square on April 18, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for USOC)
Alice Coachman points to a picture of herself clearing the high-jump bar in the 1948 Olympics during the opening of The Olympic Woman, an exhibition that explores women's achievements during 100 years of participation in the Olympic Games Monday, June 24, 1996, in Atlanta. Coachman is the first American black woman to win an Olympic gold medal. The exhibit is sponsored by Avon. (AP Photo/John Dickerson)
Shirley Franklin, Olympic medalists Vonetta Flowers, center, and Alice Coachman Davis, pose together after the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay (Photo by Brenda J. Turner/WireImage)
** CORRECTS FROM DAN JANSON TO DAN JANSEN ** 2004 U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame inductees pose after the ceremony at the Cadillac Palace Theater in Chicago, Thursday, July 1, 2004. The event sponsored by Allstate is the first in 12 years. Inductees are, from left, Mary Harvey, Carla Overbeck, Tiffeny Milbrett, Carin Gabarra, Al Joyner for Florence Griffith Joyner, Mary Joyner for Florence Griffith Joyner, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Staci Wilson, Tony DiCicco, (back center) Randy Snow, (front center, in wheelchair) Dan Jansen, Bonnie Blair, Bud Greenspan, Matt Biondi, Janet Evans, Diane Davis for Alice Coachman. (AP Photo/Stephen J. Carrera)
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ALBANY, Ga. (AP) -- The first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, Alice Coachman Davis, died early Monday in south Georgia. She was 90.

Davis' death was confirmed by her daughter, Evelyn Jones.

Davis won Olympic gold in the high jump at the 1948 games in London with an American and Olympic record of 1.68 meters (5.51 feet), according to USA Track and Field, the American governing body of the sport. Davis was inducted to the USA Track and Field Hall of fame in 1975, and was inducted to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004.

"Going into the USOC Hall of Fame is as good as it gets," she told The Associated Press in a 2004 interview. "It's like Cooperstown, Springfield and Canton," she said, referring to the sites of other prominent Halls of Fame.

Davis was the only American woman to win a gold medal at the 1948 games. According to Olympic historian David Wallechinsky, Coachman was honored with a 175-mile motorcade in Georgia when she returned from London. However, the black and white audiences were segregated at her official ceremony in Albany.

Recollecting her career in the 2004 interview, Davis speculated that she could have won even more Olympic medals, but the Olympics weren't held in 1940 or 1944 because of World War II. She retired at age 25 after winning the gold medal in London.

"I know I would have won in 1944, at least," said Davis. "I was starting to peak then. It really feels good when Old Glory is raised and the National Anthem is played."

Davis attended Tuskegee University and also played basketball on a team that won three straight conference basketball titles. She won 25 national track and field championships - including 10 consecutive high jump titles - between 1939 and 1948, according to USA Track and Field.

Growing up in the deep South during the era of legal segregation, Davis had to overcome multiple challenges.

The New Georgia Encyclopedia says she was prohibited from using public sports facilities because of her race, so she used whatever equipment she could cobble together to practice her jumping.

"My dad did not want me to travel to Tuskegee and then up north to the Nationals," Davis told the AP. "He felt it was too dangerous. Life was very different for African-Americans at that time. But I came back and showed him my medal and talked about all the things I saw. He and my mom were very proud of me."

Davis won her first national high jump title at age 16 according to USA Track and Field, and worked as a school teacher and track coach after retiring. An elementary school in her home town is named in her honor and opened in August 1999 according to Dougherty County schools officials.

Vera Williams, a secretary at Meadows Funeral Home in Albany, said Meadows will be handling Davis' memorial service, but plans haven't been finalized yet. Davis' cause of death was not immediately disclosed.

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