2 minute read

Gwen Torrence

Fastest Woman In The World

By 1996, Torrence was considered the fastest woman in the world, but she was resistant to the fame that came along with the title. She told Reilly, "I don't want to be the person society wants me to be. I don't want to be a celebrity, I know that. I don't want to be a star, walking on eggshells, afraid to do this, afraid to do that, with people who don't even know me automatically making me a role model for their kids. I don't want the pressure of being a perfect person." In truth, Torrence would rather have spent her time shopping, eating fast food at the mall, watching daytime television, and raising her son.

Over the course of her career, Torrence had become known for her outspokenness; she was not a people-pleaser, and admitted to Karen Springer in Newsweek that she was often "frosty" to other athletes, fans, or even her husband. Although she occasionally wished she had the same gracious personality as famed track athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, "I don't," she told Springer. And her husband, Manley Waller, added, "She don't put on no phony act."

Torrence looked forward to the 1996 Olympics, held in her hometown of Atlanta. According to Great Women in Sports, she told a Track and Field reporter that the Games being held in Atlanta was "a gift from God. He didn't like what happened to me in '92, so he's trying to make up for that by bringing the Games here." At the 1996 Olympics, Torrence won a gold medal as a member of the 4 × 100 meter relay, and won a bronze medal in the 100 meters. In 2002, Torrence was inducted into the Track and Field Hall of Fame.

Awards and Accomplishments

1986 Gold medal, 55-meter dash, Millrose Games
1987 Gold medals, 55, 100, and 200 meters, NCAA Championships
1987 Gold medals, 100 and 200 meters, World University Games
1991 Silver medals, 100 and 200 meters, World Championships
1992 Gold medals, 200 meters and 4 × 100 meter relay; silver medal, 4 × 400 meter relay, Olympic Games
1995 Gold medal, 100 and 200 meters, U.S. Outdoor Championships; gold medal, 100 meters, World Championships
1995 Top Athlete Overall
1996 Gold medal, 4 × 100 meter relay, and bronze medal, 100 meters, Olympic Games
2002 Inducted into Track and Field Hall of Fame

Where Is She Now?

Torrence quit competing after the 1997 season. She now lives in Lithonia, Georgia, where she is finally living her long-held dream of working as a hair stylist and raising her two children, Manley Jr. and E'mon.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsTrack and FieldGwen Torrence Biography - "shoooosh, She Was Gone", Chronology, Competes In Olympics, Fastest Woman In The World