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Evelyn Ashford

Racing The Boys

Evelyn Ashford was born April 15, 1957, in Shreveport, Louisiana, but grew up in the Sacramento, California, area. One day as she was running during physical education class at Roseville High School, the football coach pulled her aside and asked if she would race his fastest player. "I think you can beat him," the coach said. Evelyn did, and from then on she began to win little prizes and big popularity for running faster than the male athletes. Because girls did not yet have their own track team at Roseville, Evelyn became the only female member of the boys' team in the early 1970s. By her senior year in high school, she had won numerous state and regional track meets, racing against other girls.

During her senior year, Ashford became one of the first women to be offered a full athletic scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). She accepted the scholarship and began training for the 1976 Olympics during her freshman year. She qualified for the 100-meter sprint but came in fifth place at her first Olympic Games, in Montreal, Canada, at age nineteen. A taste of the Olympics and a drive to win a gold medal, inspired by the great African-American woman athlete Wilma Rudolph, gave Ashford the impetus she needed to train hard for the 1980 Olympics. She left UCLA in 1978 to focus on her training full time.

Chronology

1957 Born April 15 in Shreveport, Louisiana
1972-75 Defeats star male football runner in race at Roseville High School (Roseville, California) and becomes only female on school track team; serves as co-captain during senior year
1975 Accepts a full athletic scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles
1976 Competes in Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, finishing fifth in the 100-meter dash
1978 Leaves college to train full-time for the 1980 Olympics
1980 U.S. President Jimmy Carter boycotts Olympics in Moscow to protest Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; Ashford is devastated that she will not get to compete
1981 Competes in World Cup championships
1983 Pulls right hamstring and falls during finals at World Cup
1984 Competes in Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California, winning two gold medals and setting an Olympic record in sprinting
mid-1980s Serves as reporter for cable TV program World Class Woman
1986 Gives birth to daughter, Raina Ashley Washington
1987 Misses most of track season because of troublesome hamstring muscle
1988 Competes in Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, winning a gold medal for 4 × 100 relay and a silver in sprinting after finishing second to Florence Griffith-Joyner
1992 Competes in Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, winning gold medal as leader of 4 × 100 relay team, at age 35
1992 Retires after Olympics; devotes time to raising her daughter and serves as public speaker and track-and-field commentator
1999 Participates in U.S. Olympic Committee's worldwide Olympic Day on June 23

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsTrack and FieldEvelyn Ashford Biography - Racing The Boys, Chronology, Bitter Disappointment, Double Gold, Gold And Silver, The Fastest Doubleheader Ever - CONTACT INFORMATION