INDIANAPOLIS -- Alice Coachman Davis, the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, passed away Monday morning in Albany, Georgia. Davis, a 1975 inductee of the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame, was 90 years old.
“We are saddened to learn of the passing of one of our greatest athletes, Alice Coachman Davis. She was the first of what continues to be a great legacy of African-American women to earn gold medals in track and field,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “But her greatness spoke for itself, regardless of race. Her place in history is forever secure. USA Track & Field extends our deepest condolences to her family and friends.
Davis leaves behind a phenomenal legacy, as she won the women’s high jump at the 1948 Olympic Games in London. Davis jumped a then-Olympic record of 1.68m/5-6 to capture Olympic gold, adding to her 25 national athletics championships from 1939-1948, including 10 high jump titles.
Davis also qualified for the 1940 and 1944 Olympic Games but was unable to compete until 1948 because of World War II.
Davis was also the first African-American female to earn an endorsement deal, signing with Coca-Cola in 1952. In 1994, she founded the Alice Coachman Track and Field Foundation to provide assistance to young athletes and former Olympic competitors. Davis was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004.
In an official statement, U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said, "On behalf of the U.S. Olympic family, we mourn the loss of Alice Coachman Davis and offer our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends. Alice literally set the bar with her accomplishments at the 1948 Games, but Olympic champion is only part of the incredible legacy she leaves behind. Alice Coachman Davis has inspired generations of athletes to be their best and she will be missed.”