Evelyn Ashford

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Evelyn Ashford
Medal record
Women's athletics
Competitor for the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold 1984 Los Angeles 100 metres
Gold 1984 Los Angeles 4×100 m relay
Gold 1988 Seoul 4×100 m relay
Gold 1992 Barcelona 4×100 m relay
Silver 1988 Seoul 100 metres
Pan American Games
Gold 1979 San Juan 100 metres
Gold 1979 San Juan 200 metres

Evelyn Ashford (born April 15, 1957 in Shreveport, Louisiana) is a retired American athlete, the 1984 Olympic champion in the 100 m. She has run under the 11 second barrier over 30 times and was the first to run under 11 seconds in an Olympic Games.[1]

As a 19-year-old, Ashford finished 5th in the 100 m event at the 1976 Summer Olympics. After beating the World Record holders in the 100 m and 200 m in 1979, Ashford was one of the potential medalists for the 1980 Summer Olympics, but these Games were boycotted by the United States.

Ashford was ranked #1 in the world by Track & Field News over 100 metres in 1979 and 1981,[2] and over 200 metres in 1981.[3] She also was named Track and Field News "Athlete of the Year" twice, in 1981 and 1984[4]

On July 3, 1983, she set her first World Record (be it at altitude) for the 100 metres, running 10.79 seconds at the National Sports Festival in Colorado Springs, Colorado and was one of the favourites to win the 100 metre title at the inaugural World Championships in Helsinki. In the final, however, she pulled a hamstring muscle and fell. The other main favourite, Marlies Göhr of East Germany (who had already beaten Ashford earlier that year) went on to win.

At the 1984 Summer Olympics, Ashford had a chance to win a gold medal. However, she had to withdraw from the 200 m heats with a minor injury. She competed in the 100 m, winning the event in a new Olympic Record of 10.97 secs. As the anchor runner for 4 X 100 m relay team, she won a second gold medal. In the absence of World Champions and world record holders East Germany, the US team clocked one of the fastest times in history and won by the biggest margin ever at an Olympics, 1.12 seconds.[1]

Later in the season, she finally defeated her main rival Göhr at the Weltklasse meeting in Zürich, Switzerland. The race saw Ashford make up half a metre or so over Göhr and lower her own World Record to 10.76 secs. See the race on youtube That race proved to be Ashford's personal record. It still ranks as the #8 Individual all-time[5] Ashford, unsurprisingly, regained her #1 Track & Field News ranking.[2]

At the 1988 Summer Olympics, she was the flag bearer for the United States team at the Opening Ceremony. She was beaten in the 100 m by Florence Griffith Joyner, who had broken her World Record earlier in the season at the Olympic Trials. In the 4 x 100 m relay she again ran the final leg, winning her third Olympic gold medal despite a sloppy last exchange that meant she had to make up some ground on Göhr.[1]

At her last Olympics in Barcelona Ashford, aged 35, was eliminated in the 100 m semi-finals by 1/100th of a second; she went on to win her third straight Olympic 4 x 100 m relay gold, this time running 1st leg. She is one of only six women to have won four gold medals in track and field Olympic history.[1]

Ashford twice came back from season ending injuries to reach the top of the sport in the following year. After injury in 1983, she became double Olympic Champion in 1984. In 1987 a hamstring pull prevented her from competing at the World Championships, then a season later added an Olympic Silver and third Gold medal to her collection.

On May 30, 1985 she gave birth to her daughter Raina Ashley Washington, and again came back for an excellent 1986, losing only once over both the 100 m and 200 m and earning another #1 ranking by Track & Field News over the shorter distance.

After parting ways with her coach Pat Connolly (herself a 3-time Olympian) in 1985, Ashford was largely self-coached.

In 1997, Ashford was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame,[6] where she is said to be "one of the greatest track and field runners ever." Ashford went to the University of California, Los Angeles and Roseville High School.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Olympic Games
Preceded by
Edward Burke
Flagbearer for  United States
Seoul 1988
Succeeded by
Francie Larrieu-Smith
Records
Preceded by
East Germany Marlies Göhr
Women's 100 m World Record Holder
July 3, 1983 – July 16, 1988
Succeeded by
United States Florence Griffith-Joyner
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
East Germany Ilona Briesenick
Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
1981
Succeeded by
East Germany Marita Koch
Preceded by
Czechoslovakia Jarmila Kratochvílová
Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
1984
Succeeded by
East Germany Marita Koch
Preceded by
United States Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Flo Hyman Memorial Award
1989
Succeeded by
United States Chris Evert
Preceded by
None
Women's Track & Field ESPY Award
1993
Succeeded by
United States Gail Devers
Sporting positions
Preceded by
East Germany Bärbel Wöckel
Women's 200 m Best Year Performance
1981
Succeeded by
East Germany Marita Koch