Evelyn Ashford

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Evelyn Ashford
Personal information
BornApril 15, 1957 (1957-04-15) (age 62)[1]
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.[1]
Height165 cm (5 ft 5 in)[1]
Weight53 kg (117 lb)[1]
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)60 yd: 6.54 WR (1982)
60 m: 7.08 (1988)
100 m: 10.76 (1984)
200 m: 21.83 (1979)
400 m: 51.57 (1979)

Evelyn Ashford (born April 15, 1957 in Shreveport, Louisiana) is an American retired track and field athlete, the 1984 Olympic champion in the 100-meter dash. She ran under the 11-second barrier over 30 times and was the first to run under 11 seconds in an Olympic Games.[2]

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 at the World Cup of Track and Field in Montreal, Ashford was one of the potential medalists for the 1980 Summer Olympics, but these Games were boycotted by the United States. Evelyn also tore a quad muscle in May, and was out for the rest of the season.

Ashford was ranked No. 1 in the world by Track & Field News over 100 metres in 1979 and 1981,[3] and over 200 metres in 1981.[4] She also was named Track and Field News "Athlete of the Year" twice, in 1981 and 1984[5]

She would again win the sprint double, at the World Cup of Track and Field in Rome, in 1981.

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 × 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.[2]

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 No. 8 Individual all-time[6] Ashford, unsurprisingly, regained her No. 1 Track & Field News ranking.[3]

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 × 100 m relay she again ran the final leg, winning her third Olympic gold medal despite a less than perfect last exchange between Griffith-Joyner and Ashford that required Ashford to run a sensational final leg to overtake Göhr.[2]

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 × 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.[2]

Ashford came back from season ending injuries three times, to reach the top of the sport in the following year. In 1980 she injured her quad, and returned in 1981 with the sprint double at the World Cup and the number one world ranking in both sprints. After an 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 winning the 100 meter title at the Goodwill Games; earning another No. 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,[7] 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. She was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990.


  1. ^ a b c d "Evelyn Ashford". Summer Olympics Athletes Fan Guide. ESPN. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Evelyn Ashford". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC.
  3. ^ a b T&FN 100m rankings Archived 2008-05-16 at the Wayback Machine www.trackandfieldnews.com
  4. ^ T&FN 200m rankings Archived 2008-05-16 at the Wayback Machine www.trackandfieldnews.com
  5. ^ Athlete of the Year Archived 2011-11-18 at the Wayback Machine www.trackandfieldnews.com
  6. ^ IAAF All Time list www.iaaf.org
  7. ^ USATF Hall of Fame Bio Archived 2018-09-17 at the Wayback Machine www.usatf.org

External links[edit]

Olympic Games
Preceded by
Lyle Nelson
Flagbearer for  United States
Seoul 1988
Succeeded by
Bill Koch
Preceded by
Marlies Göhr
Women's 100 m World Record Holder
July 3, 1983 – July 16, 1988
Succeeded by
Florence Griffith-Joyner
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Ilona Briesenick
Jarmila Kratochvílová
Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
Marita Koch
Preceded by
Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Flo Hyman Memorial Award
Succeeded by
Chris Evert
New award Women's Track & Field ESPY Award
Succeeded by
Gail Devers
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Bärbel Wöckel
Women's 200 m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Marita Koch