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Evelyn Ashford

Double Gold

Her determination and training paid off, however. The 1984 Olympics were held in her college town, Los Angeles, and this time the Soviets led a boycott. Ashford withdrew from the 200-meter race to rest her hamstring and focus on the 100-meter. In that race she defeated Heike Drechsler of Germany to win her first Olympic gold medal. In tears as she finished the race and throughout the medal ceremony, Ashford said she couldn't believe it was over and that she had won. Yet, the 27-year-old runner had another gold medal coming, in the 4 × 100-meter relay. It was the first of three consecutive gold medals she would bring home in that event.

Ashford's critics claimed that her 1984 Olympic win was not decisive because East German champion Marlies Gohr had not raced due to the Communist boycott. However, soon after the Olympics, Ashford and Gohr competed in the 100-meter in a Zurich, Switzerland, meet. Ashford was slightly behind Gohr for ninety meters but gathered speed during the last ten to beat the German champion and set a world-record time of 10.79 seconds, Ashford's career personal best. This victory silenced her critics, and another Olympic win four years later proved she was the best in the 4 × 100 relay as well.

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