Willie Davenport

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Willie Davenport
Willie Davenport 1968.jpg
Willie Davenport at the 1968 Olympics
Personal information
BornJune 8, 1943
Troy, Alabama, United States
DiedJune 17, 2002 (aged 59)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Alma materSouthern University
Height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight185 lb (84 kg)
SportSprint running
ClubBaton Rouge Track Club
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)100 yd – 9.5 (1968)
100 m – 10.3 (1969)
110 mh – 13.33 (1968)[1]

William "Willie" D. Davenport (June 8, 1943 – June 17, 2002) was an American sprint runner. He attended Howland High School and college at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He competed in the 110 m hurdles at the 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics, winning a gold medal in 1968 and a bronze in 1976, and finishing fourth in 1972. In 1980 he took part in the Winter Olympics as a runner for the American bobsleigh team. Because of the boycott, and the quirk of participating in the Winter Olympics, he was the only U.S. track and field athlete to participate in the 1980 Olympics.[1][2]

Davenport took part in his first Olympics in 1964, but injured his thigh and was eliminated in the semifinals. In Mexico City in 1968, he reached the final and won: "From the first step, the gun, I knew I had won the race." In 1972 he finished fourth, and in his third consecutive Olympic 110 m hurdles final, in 1976, he won a bronze medal. At his last Olympics in 1980 he was a bobsleigh runner, ending up 12th in the four-man competition. Davenport's other achievements include five national championships in the 60 yard hurdles indoor event.[1]

By participating in the 1980 bobsleigh competition, Willie became the first African American to compete in the Winter Olympics for the USA.

Davenport was a U.S. Army private at the time of his first Olympic participation, he was a Colonel in the United States Army National Guard at the time of his death. He died of a heart attack at age 59 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on June 17, 2002. He was survived by daughter Tanya, sons Willie and Mark and fiancée Barbara Henry.[3]

In 1977 he was inducted into the Mt. SAC Relays Hall of Fame,[4] and in 1982 into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Willie Davenport. sports-reference.com
  2. ^ Hymans, Richard. "The History of the United States Olympic Trials – Track & Field" (PDF). USA Track & Field.
  3. ^ Haskell, Bob (June 20, 2002) Five-Time Olympian Col. Willie Davenport Remembered. DefenseLink News Article.
  4. ^ Willie Davenport. Mtsacrelays.com. Retrieved on 2015-06-14.
  5. ^ Hall of Fame. USATF. Retrieved on 2015-06-14.

Further reading[edit]

  • Wallechinsky, David (1984). The Complete Book of the Olympics: 1896 – 1980. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 54–55, 562.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
United States Earl McCullouch
Men's 110m Hurdles World Record Holder
July 4, 1969 — September 2, 1972
Succeeded by
United States Rodney Milburn
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Men's 110m Hurdles Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
United States Earl McCullouch
Preceded by
United States Earl McCullouch
Men's 110m Hurdles Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
United States Thomas Hill