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USATF celebrates Black History Month

Feb. 27 - Allyson Felix
Allyson Felix (November 18, 1985) is one of the most decorated American sprinters in the history of track & field. Over the span of her illustrious career Felix, affectionately dubbed “Chicken Legs” by her teammates in high school, has raced her way to nine national championships and six Olympic medals. At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Felix became the first woman - since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988 - to win three golds, earning the right to stand on top of the podium in the 200-meters, 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relay. Felix is the only four-time recipient of the Jesse Owens Award, which is USATF's annually recognized Athlete of the Year award. Off the track, Felix serves as a global ambassador for Right to Play, an organization designed to encourage the development of education, health and leadership in disadvantaged areas through sports. An advocate for the elimination of doping in the sport, Felix is also member of Project Believe, a voluntary drug-testing program requiring athletes to go beyond typical testing obligations. Despite skipping the collegiate ranks to become a professional immediately after high school, Felix attended the University of Southern California, where she earned a degree in education in 2008. Post-retirement Felix hopes to put her degree to good use and become an elementary school teacher. However, she is still active athlete and a true role model in the sport. 

Feb. 26 - Sanya Richards-Ross
Sanya Richards-Ross (February 26, 1985) is a five-time Olympic medalist, as well as the American record-holder in the 400-meter dash, running a blistering 48.70 at the 2006 World Cup in Athens, Greece. Over the course of her illustrious career, Richards-Ross, who was raised in Jamaica before immigrating to America, has reigned supreme over the 400-meters and 4x400m-relay. She has a collection of four Olympic gold medals, is only the second American 400m gold medalist in Olympic history and won six world championships.  Richards-Ross owns eight of the top 10, 400-meter times ever recorded by an American woman. In recent years Richards-Ross has been almost as unstoppable off the track as she has been on it. She and her sister own The Hair Clinic, a salon in Texas that also sells her custom-made line of hair extensions.  Richards-Ross and her husband, Giants cornerback Aaron Ross, star in the WEtv series Glam and Gold, which follows the sprinter throughout her hectic daily life. Despite her non-stop lifestyle, this Olympian and budding media personality still finds time for humanitarian endeavors. The Sanya Richards Fast Track Program was born in 2007 with the primary goal of combining sports with literacy and numeracy. Since its inception, the program has provided aid to over a thousand children in poverty-stricken areas of Jamaica. Richards-Ross was also one of the first athletes to participate in the USA Track and Field Win With Integrity Program. 

Feb. 25 - David Oliver
David Oliver (April 24, 1982), whose hometown is Denver, is the reigning 110-meter hurdles world champion, having claimed his title at the 2013 IAAF Championships held in August, 2013, in Moscow. Oliver attended Howard University, where he was a multi-sport star in both track & field and football, and he earned invitations to several NFL try-outs due to his phenomenal collegiate success. Oliver is the only athlete from Howard to earn All-American honors twice (2003 and 2004), and his sensational list of accomplishments include three USA Outdoor championships, one Indoor Championship and a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Oliver's 100-meter hurdles time of 12.89 stands as the second greatest American performance, and the fifth fastest of all-time while his finish of 7.37 in the 60-meter hurdles is just one-hundredth of a second off the American record. Oliver's athletic success has enabled him to engage in several philanthropic endeavors off the track.  SUB13, founded in 2010 by Oliver, focuses on helping inner city children prosper both athletically and academically. In addition to his own organization. Oliver also visited schools and community centers around the country as a representative of USA Track & Field's Win With Integrity program, which was aimed at educating youth, parents and coaches about the positive results that come from leading a physically active, drug-free lifestyle while living with integrity. 

Feb. 24 - Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson (September 13, 1967), a native of Dallas, Texas, is the current world and American record holder in the 200 and 400 meters. He became the first man in history to win those two events at a single Olympic Games, conquering that feat during the Atlanta 1996 Games. Johnson became the only man to repeat as Olympic 400m champion when he won gold at the Sydney 2000 Games. Johnson owns more world outdoor championships, with nine, than any athlete in history, and he ran the anchor leg of the U.S. squad that set the existing 4x400m relay world record in 1998. Johnson, who set the 200m world record on two occasions, is a three-time Olympian, who won 4x400m relay gold medals in 1996 & 2000. A five-time World Outdoor Championships team member, Johnson also won the 200m gold medal in 1991and 1995, as well as the 400m gold medal in 1993, '95, '97, '99. He took the World Outdoor Championships title in the 4x400m gold medals in 1993, '95, '99, and he was a member of teams that set 4x400m relay world records in 1992-'93, '98. Johnson is a five-time USA Outdoor 200m champion, and he won the USA Outdoor 400m title on four occasions in addition to winning the USA Indoor 400m championship four times. As a collegiate star at Baylor University, Johnson won the 1990 NCAA Outdoor 200m title, and was a two-time NCAA Indoor 200m champion. He ranked in the world 11 times in 200m, with five of those ranking at No.1, and he earned  11 world rankings in the 400m, with 10 of those as No. 1. 

Feb. 23 - Dan O’Brien
Dan O’Brien
(July 18, 1966) is widely recognized as “World’s Greatest Athlete” after capturing five international decathlon championships, including a gold medal and all of America’s hearts at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. O’Brien was born in Portland, Ore., and adopted at age two. He was raised in a large, racially mixed family and had very visible and dominant athletic abilities in his high school years. O’Brien won four state track & field titles during his senior year, and he was an all-state football and basketball selections. His international career gained steam when he avenged a no-height performance in the pole vault at the 1992 Olympic Trials - which kept him off the U.S. Olympic team - to set the then world (and existing American) record later in the year of 8,891 points in Talence, France to  better his previous WR of 8,812 set in 1991. O’Brien was the world decathlon champion in 1991, 1993 & 1995 and earned the year-end world No.1  ranking from Track & Field News on six occasions, finishing in the top ten of T&FN's World Athlete of the Year voting four times during his career. He won Olympic gold in Atlanta, scoring 8,824 points en route to his 11th consecutive decathlon win since September 1992.O’Brien is now tied with 1968 Olympic gold medalist and fellow Hall of Famer Bill Toomey and Tom Pappas with the most U.S. national 10-event titles ever with five. Today Dan continues to give back to the sport that has given so much to him. Dan works very closely with the United States Olympic Committee as part of its Olympic Ambassador Program, mentoring current athletes in the areas of media training, preparation and peak performance. Over the years he has worked as both a color commentator and guest analyst for networks such as ESPN, CBS and NBC. He was a part of Yahoo! Sports 2012 Olympic coverage from London.

Today Dan resides with his wife Leilani in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he is entering his seventh year as an assistant volunteer coach at Arizona State University.  Dan also trains athletes of all ages in sports ranging from tennis to football.  He can be found most days in a nearby gym or track.

Feb. 22 - Maurice Green
Maurice Greene
(July 23, 1974), a native of Kansas City, Kan., was the sprinter who reigned as the “World's Fastest Man” for over six years from June 1999 until his record was broken in June of 2005. Greene is universally recognized as one of the greatest track & field athletes of all-time. Over the course of his decorated career, he won five World Championships, four Olympic medals and one World Indoor Championship in his signature 60m dash. At the apex of his career, Greene traveled to Australia for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, taking home a pair of gold medals in the 100m and 4x100m relay and further solidifying his claim as the fastest man on the planet. Greene still sits atop the record book in the 60m as his time of 6.39 has yet to be touched. His previously held world record of 9.79 in the 100m still stands as the fifth fastest time ever recorded. Post-retirement, Greene hasn't strayed far from the public eye, starring as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars before taking up hosting duties on his own show, Greene Light on Yahoo's Eurosport channel. In addition to his rising career as a media personality, Greene has performed charitable work as an ambassador for WildAid, a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating illegal wildlife trade throughout the world. 

Feb. 21 - Kenny Harrison
Kenny Harrison (Feb. 13, 1965), took advantage of his chances in Atlanta 1996 Centennial Olympic Games after he was forced to miss the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games due to injury. Harrison, the 1991 World Outdoor Championships triple jump gold medalist, reached new levels with a mark of 18.09m/59-4.25 at the Atlanta Games, and the distance not only earned Harrison an Olympic gold medal, but it also established new marks for Olympic and American records, which still stand 17 years later. Harrison's international titles compliment a total of six indoor and outdoor national titles in his career. He was a standout at Kansas State University, where he won the 1986 NCAA Outdoor title in triple jump, the 1986 NCAA Indoor title in long jump and the 1988 NCAA Indoor title in the triple jump. Harrison ended his career with the Wildcats a 15-tim All-American and eight-time Big 8 champion. He was inducted into the USATF Hall of Fame as a member of the 2013 class. 

(Photo courtesy: All Sport)

Feb. 21 - Steve Williams
Steve Williams, born November 13, 1953, frequently set and reset track & field records. Between 1973 and 1976, he set the world record in the 100m on four separate occasions and set the world record once each in the 100-yard and 220-yard dashes. In 1973 he was ranked No. 1 in the world in both the 100m and 200m and repeated that honor in the 100m in 1975. He was the best in the world in 1977 when he won the World Cup title in the 100m and anchored the American 4x100m team that included Bill Collins, Steve Riddick and Cliff Wiley to a world record. Williams unfortunately fell short of reaching his Olympic dreams. He sustained an injury during the 1976 Olympic Trials, and his next opportunity to compete would have been the  Moscow 1980 Olympic Games Team USA ultimately boycotted the . Williams competed for both the University of Texas-El Paso and San Diego State. He was inducted into the USATF Hall of Fame as a member of the 2013 class. 

Feb. 20 - Eleanor Montgomery
Eleanor Montgomery (November 13, 1946) was a member of the esteemed Tennessee State University Tigerbelles team, which included such legends as Wilma Rudolph, Wyomia Tyus, Madeline Manning, Martha Watson, Mae Faggs, Edith McGuire, Willye White and Chandra Cheeseborough, as well as coach Ed Temple. As an athlete at Tennessee State, Montgomery quickly established herself as the top high jumper in the country, winning a total of 13 AAU Indoor and Outdoor and USA Outdoor titles. Her accomplishments also included winning the high jump at both the 1963 and 1967 Pan American Games where she set the meet record at the 1963 competition. Between 1967 and 1969, Montgomery set the American indoor and outdoor record in the event a total of six times. She twice qualified for the Olympic Games (1964 and 1968) and in 1967 was ranked No. 2 in the world in the event. She is also a member of the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted with the 2013 USATF Hall of Fame class shortly before her passing in December 2013. 

Feb. 19 - Willie Banks
Willie Banks (March 11, 1956 - ), born on Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif., is regarded as one of the greatest U.S. triple jumpers to represented the United States. Willie Banks had his best moment on June 16, 1985 when he set a world record of 58' 11 1/2" at the national championships in Indianapolis, Ind. That was the highlight of a career that started in Oceanside, Calif. After graduating from high school, Banks attended UCLA and was twice runner-up in the NCAA Championships. It was after college that he achieved his greatest success, setting his first American record in 1981 by jumping 56' 7 3/4" and improving that record six more times -- by more than 2 feet -- before he retired. A four-time AAU champion, Banks represented the U.S. in 18 international competitions and was a member of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic teams. He captured a silver medal as a member of the U.S. team at the 1983 World Championships and was also a member of the 1987 World Championship team. After graduating from UCLA, Banks went on to the university's law school. During this period, he became known as the "Bouncing Barrister." He popularized the triple jump by encouraging the crowd to clap as he prepared for his run-up and by engaging spectators during a meet. In 1985, Banks was the Track & Field News and U.S. Olympic Committee Athlete of the Year. He also served USATF as chair of the Athletes Advisory Committee in addition to serving as organization vice president.


Feb. 18 - Mal Whitfield
Mal Whitfield, or "Marvelous Mal,” was born October 11, 1924, in Bay City, Texas. Whitfield held his share of world records but he was an athlete who ran to win, rather than one who ran for time. Competitive at any distance from the 220-yard to the mile, Whitfield put together a record that included two Olympic 800m crowns, six world records and eight National AAU titles, six of them outdoors. A sergeant in the U.S. Air Force while attending The Ohio State University, Whitfield won national collegiate middle distance titles in 1948 and 1949. He made his first Olympic team in 1948, taking the 800m in an Olympic record time of 1:49.2, placing third in the 400m during those London Games. He also garnered a second gold medal in the 4x400m relay. After serving as a tail gunner during the Korean War, Whitfield returned to the Olympic stage in Helsinki in 1952, and he repeated his 800m victory, again in 1:49.2 in addition to earning a silver medal in the 4x400m relay. Whitfield set a world 880-yard record of 1:49.2 in 1950 and dropped it to 1:48.6 in 1952. Accustomed to doubling at the same meet, Whitfield set a world record in the 1000m at a meet in Eskilstuna, Sweden, before he ran a personal best of 46.2 in the 440-yard run just one hour later. Whitfield, the 1954 Sullivan Award winner, as the top amateur athlete in the U.S., later worked for the U.S. State Department in Africa. He was elected to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1988.

Feb. 17
Edwin Corley Moses
(August 31, 1955), born in Dayton, Ohio, is one of the most decorated and revered hurdlers of all-time. Moses had an unprecedented streak of dominance, going undefeated over nearly a decade and winning 122 consecutive 400 m hurdles races. During Moses' impressive career, he captured three Olympic medals (two gold, one bronze), two IAAF World Championships, was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year 1984, and he broke the 400m hurdles record on four separate occasions. In addition to his illustrious track & field career Moses was also an accomplished bobsledder, who won bronze at a 1990 World Cup race in Germany. He was instrumental in establishing the Athletes Trust Fund, which
helps financially support the dreams Olympians. In 1994 Moses not only received an MBA from Pepperdine University, but he was also elected into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame. Moses currently serves as chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, an organization which works with athletes from around the world to assist disadvantaged youth. Perhaps best known for his pioneering work in the development of policies against the use of performance-enhancing drugs, Moses continues to work tirelessly as a humanitarian, motivator and global sport ambassador. 

Feb. 16 - Gail Devers
Gail Devers,
born Nov. 19, 1966, in Seattle, had a career of perseverance and dominance in women’s track & field. The three-time Olympic gold medalist is a 13-time World Indoor and World Outdoor medalist, and she competed until age 40. In 1991, relatively early in her career, Devers was diagnosed with Graves Disease. As she began radiation treatments, doctors threatened to amputate her feet. She endured treatments and retained her soles to become one of the most dominant sprinters and hurdlers of her time. She won Olympic gold in the 100m at the Barcelona 1992 Games before adding gold medals in the 100m and 4x100m at the Atlanta 1996 Games. At the World Outdoor Championships, she won three gold medals in the 100m hurdles (‘93, ‘95, ‘99) along with a gold medal in the 100m in 1993 and the 4x100m in 1997. She won World Indoor Championships gold three times in the 60m (‘93, ‘97, ‘04) and once in the 60m hurdles (‘03). In 2007, at the age of 40, Devers won the 60m hurdles at the Millrose Games in 7.86 seconds, posting the fastest time in the world that year. As a 10-time USA Outdoor 100m hurdles champion, Devers is also two-time winner of the ESPY for Women’s Track & Field Athlete of the Year.

Feb. 15 - Alice Coachman

Alice Coachman (November 9, 1923), born in  Albany, Ga., became the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal when she set the American high jump record to 5’ 6 ⅛” at the London 1948 Olympic Games. Coachman’s high jump career took flight when, at age 16, she relocated from her hometown in Georgia to to join the Tuskegee Institute track & field team, coached by the legendary Cleve Abbott, in Tuskeegee, Ala. Coachman won 10 consecutive U.S. titles, mostly in high jump, en route to earning 25 national titles in her career. She won consecutive 50m dash outdoor titles from 1943-47 in addition to outdoor 100m titles in 1942, 1945 and 1946. On the indoor circuit, Coachman won 50m dash titles in 1945-46. She was the anchor of the Tuskegee Institute’s national championship relay teams in 1941 and 1942. After concluding her athletic career, the pioneering medalist attended both the Tuskegee Institute and Albany State University in Georgia, before she became a schoolteacher and coach.

Feb. 14 - Happy Valentines Day from USATF

Feb. 13 - Bob Beamon
Robert “Bob” Beamon
(August 29, 1946), a long jumper born and raised in South Jamaica, Queens, New York, is credited with one of the most incredible Olympic performances in athletic history. At the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games, he leaped to an astounding 29’ 2 ½”  (8.90m), shattering the world record by nearly two feet and setting a new international standard that remained unbroken for 23 years. Beamon’s early career included both a national high school triple jump record and a national collegiate indoor long jump record. In 1968, he emerged as a potential Olympic champion when he won the long jump at 22 of 23 meets, including the National AAU outdoor title and U.S. Olympic Trials – Track & Field, a prelude to Mexico City.  Beamon’s 1972 Olympic comeback fell short, and he became a professional in 1973before his 1974 induction into the Olympic Hall of Fame. With his wife, Milana Walter Beamon, he is co-author of his autobiography, The Man Who Could Fly. The long jump legend now hosts the annual Bob Beamon Charity Golf Tournament, which provides funding for youth programs. He is also the CEO of the Art of the Olympians Museum and Gallery, a cultural and educational center focused on the artwork of legendary Olympians. 

Feb. 12 - Evelyn Ashford
Evelyn Ashford
(April 15, 1957), born in Shreveport, La., is regarded as one of the greatest women's sprinters in track and field history. Ashford ranked first in the world four times and was the top-ranked American seven times, including four in a row from 1981 to 1984. As a competitor at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games while still attending UCLA, Ashford also competed in the Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992 Games, winning four gold medals and a silver. After setting an Olympic record when she ran 10.97 to win the 100m at the 1984 Games, she was a two-time world record holder in the 100m, running 10.79 in 1983 and surpassing that record when she ran 10.76 in 1984. Among her greatest achievements was her double victory at the 1979 World Cup when she defeated East Germany's dominant sprinters, beating Marlies Gohr in the 100m and world-record holder Marita Koch in the 200m. She repeated her double sprint victories in the 1981 World Cup. Ashford’s overall career includes appearances on 15 national teams from 1976 to 1992. She won 19 national titles, including six indoors.

Feb. 11 - Tommie Smith & John Carlos

Tommie Smith (June 5, 1944) of Clarksville , Texas, and John Carlos (June 5, 1945) of New York City, are best known for their gesture seen around the world during the American national anthem at the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games. As Smith and Carlos stood atop the 200m medal podium with gold and bronze respectively bestowed around their necks, the two raised their fists to symbolize the African-American struggle of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. While the act was courageous and gained international attention, the U.S. Olympic Committee disapproved of their actions and sent the two athletes home. Many Americans also denounced them upon their return.

At 6' 3" and 185 pounds, Tommie Smith had the ideal build for a long sprinter and his acceleration in the latter stages of a race made him virtually unbeatable at any of the sprint distances. With all-time bests of 10.1 for 100m, 19.83 for 200m and 44.5 for the 400m, Smith still holds a respectable rank on the all-time records list. He was a three-sport athlete while in high school, playing basketball and football and running track and field. Smith went on to San Jose State College, where he was coached by Hall of Famer Bud Winter. Quickly, he surpassed all expectations, running an incredible 19.5 on a 220 yard straightaway and finishing that same distance on a turn in 20.0. In 1967, Smith won the 220-yard title at the NCAAs and AAU national championships in addition to making a rare appearance in the 400 meters. Smith beat future Olympic champion Lee Evans by 0.5 seconds and broke the world record by 0.4 with a time of 44.5. In 1968, he again won the national collegiate 220 title before suffering a rare loss at the Olympic Trials when he finished second to John Carlos. At the Mexico City Olympics, Carlos led the 200 finals until Smith turned on his "Tommie-jets" and won in a world record time of 19.83. After three seasons of pro football with the Cincinnati Bengals, Smith became athletic director at Oberlin College before switching to Santa Monica College as head cross country and track and field coach and sociology professor.

At the 1968 Olympic Trials, John Carlos stunned the track & field world when he beat Smith in the 200m finals to surpass Smith's world record by 0.3 seconds. Though the record was never ratified because the spike formation on Carlos' shoes wasn't accepted at the time, the race reinforced his status as a world-class sprinter. After finishing third to Smith in the 200m at the Mexico City Games, Carlos had his greatest year in 1969, matching the world 100 yard record of 9.1, winning the AAU 220 yard run and leading San Jose State to its first NCAA Championship with victories in the 100m, 220m and as a member of the 4x110-yard relay. Carlos was also gold medalist at 200m at the 1967 Pan-American Games, and he set indoor world bests in the 60-yard dash (5.9) and 220 yard dash (20.2). Prior to his successful collegiate career at San Jose State University under Hall of Fame coach Bud Winter, Carlos attended East Texas State University, where he single-handedly won the school's first Lone Star Conference Championship. Following his track career, Carlos also tried professional football, but a knee injury curtailed his one-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. He suited up for the Canadian Football League where he played one season each for the Montreal Alouettes and the Toronto Argonauts. In 1985, he became a counselor and in-school suspension supervisor at Palm Springs High School in California.

Feb. 10
Florence Griffith Joyner
(Dec. 21, 1959 - Sep. 21, 1998), more commonly known as “Flo-Jo,” drew comparisons to Wilma Rudolph (see Feb. 6 entry) when she won four gold medals during a single Olympic Games. Born in Los Angeles, Calif., Flo-Jo began her track & field career as the anchor of the Jordan High School relay team that set a national record. Once at the collegiate level, she transferred from Cal State Northridge to UCLA, winning the NCAA 200m championship in 1982 and the 400m title in 1983. Flo-Jo’s international debut came in award-winning fashion with a silver medal in the 200m at the 1984 Olympic Games. Her success continued at the 1987 World Outdoor Championships, where she won silver in her signature 200m and gold as a member of  the 4x100m relay team. At the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, Flo-Jo won gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, and she won silver in the 4x400m relay. Her 200m time at the 1988 Games also set a world record.

Flo-Jo married Al Joyner, 1984 Olympic triple jump champion, in 1987. She still holds the women's world record of 10.49 for 100 meters and 21.34 for 200 meters.

Feb. 9 - Jesse Owens 

The legendary Jesse Owens (Sep. 12, 1913 - March 31, 1980), born in Danville, Ala., became a four-time Olympic medalist at the Berlin 1936 Games. He first gained national attention at East Tech High School in Cleveland, Ohio, where he set national high school records in the long jump, the 100 and 220 yard dashes. Owens later competed at The Ohio State University, where he was coached by Hall of Famer Larry Snyder to an unstoppable, eight national collegiate titles. These titles included back-to back victories (1935 and 1936) in the 100, 200, low hurdles and long jump. Owens won a total of six National AAU titles as a Buckeye. Not to mention, he tied a world record and set five of his own in the span of only 45 minutes at the Big Ten Championships.

When Germany hosted the 1936 Games, the African-American Owens won four gold medals to
steal the spotlight from Adolf Hitler’s propaganda agenda. Owens’ victories in the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m relay not only gained American recognition but also helped change the world.

Owens later became a businessman and public speaker on motivational topics. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976 and was elected into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983.

On Feb.9 in USATF History, Allyson Felix set the American Indoor 300m record in 2007.

Feb. 8 - John Baxter Taylor
In honor of the first U.S. gold medal won today at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, USATF celebrates John Baxter Taylor.

John Baxter Taylor (Nov. 3, 1882 - Dec. 2, 1908) made athletic history as both the first African-American to compete on an international team and the first African-American to win an Olympic gold medal. His track & field success began early when he captained the high school team before heading to Brown Preparatory School, where he never lost a race. Taylor went on to attend The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania for two years before enrolling in the university's three-year veterinary school program in 1905. While at Penn, he was the country’s top 440 yard runner, and he set the event’s World Interscholastic record to 49.1 in 1903. Taylor lowered that mark to 48.6 in 1907, a year he also became the 660 yard indoor champion.

Taylor's greatest athletic achievement came at the London 1908 Olympic Games, where he and the U.S. 1600m relay team set a world record on their way to gold. Sadly, Taylor died of typhoid pneumonia in December of that same year.

1904 University of Pennsylvania Track & Field Team

 Photo: University of Pennsylvania Archives and Records Center

Feb.7 - Vonetta Flowers
In recognition of today’s Opening Ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, USATF celebrates Vonetta Flowers. Former hurdler/long jumper Flowers was the first African-American and the first person of color from any country to win a gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games, in 2002.

Click the video below to watch Vonnetta Flowers' gold medal moment. 

Feb. 6 - Wilma Rudolph
Wilma Rudolph (June 21, 1940 - Nov. 12, 1994) is one of the most recognizable female and African-American pioneers for the sport of track & field. At 5' 11" and 130 pounds, Rudolph was grace in motion -- and what motion! After overcoming polio as a child, she became an unbeaten sprinter and member of the basketball team at Burt High School in Clarksville, Tenn. She was just 16-years-old when she qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team in the 200m. At the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games, she won a bronze medal in the 4x100m relay but failed to qualify in the 200m. A year later, she entered Tennessee State University, where she became a Tigerbelle (see Feb.4 entry below) coached by Hall of Famer Ed Temple. Rudolph soon became the world's best sprinter, setting world records in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. At the Rome 1960 Olympic Games, Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals (100m, 200m and 4x100m relay). Winner of seven National AAU sprint titles, she received the 1961 Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete. Rudolph retired at age 22 after winning the 100m and anchoring the winning U.S. 4x100m relay team in the USA-USSR dual meet at Stanford University. Rudolph later became active in youth work, heading the Wilma Rudolph Foundation. She also became a motivational speaker, who in 1987, became head track coach at DePauw University. Rudolph was elected to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983.

Feb. 5 - George Coleman Poage
George Coleman Poage (Nov. 6, 1880 - April 11, 1962), born in Hannibal, Mo., became the first African-American to win an Olympic medal when he won two bronzes at the St. Louis 1904 Games during the World’s Fair. Poage was salutatorian of his high school graduating class before he became the first African-American student-athlete to run at the University of Wisconsin. After completing his undergraduate degree in history in 1903, he returned to his alma mater to begin graduate work. One year later, Poage placed third in the 220-yard hurdles and the 440-yard hurdles in St. Louis despite there being separate facilities for African-American spectators and calls for many to boycott the Games on the basis of race discrimination.

Today USA Track & Field also celebrates the birthday of Tiffany Williams, a two-time USA Outdoor Champion and 4x400m silver medalist. Williams has enjoyed a successful career as a 400m hurdler for more than a decade. She started running track at 12-years-old and developed into a Junior Olympic champion with the  Miami Northwest Express Track Club before going on to become one of the top collegiate hurdlers at the University of South Carolina. Williams and her husband Steven have two daughters: SaMya and SaNiya.

Feb. 4 - Tennessee State University Tigerbelles
Tennessee State University was among the earliest Historically Black Colleges & Universities to provide both academic and athletic opportunities for young, African-American women. As such, their female track & field program, nicknamed the Tigerbelles, flourished under head coach Ed Temple. The Tigerbelles, who in total comprised 40 Olympic athletes, were headlined by the legendary Wilma Rudolph, who was the first African-American woman to win three medals at a single Olympic Games.  Eleanor Montgomery and names such as Margaret Matthews Wilburn, Lucinda Williams Adams, Isabelle Daniels Holston, Willye White and Madeline Manning Mims also comprised the historic group, that not only accomplished great feats on an international scale but who also helped change the perception of women and African-Americans in society during the Civil Rights era. Tigerbelles Barbara Jones Slater and Mae Faggs Starr each won gold medals at the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games in Finland. At the Melbourne 1956 Games, White brought home silver while Daniels Holston, Matthews Wilburn, Faggs Star and Rudolph won bronze.  Eight of the 11 African-American women on the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team were Tigerbelle groomed, and they earned an astounding six gold medals with Rudolph’s three leading additions from Martha Hyson Pennyman, Jones Slater and Williams Adams. The Tigerbelle's Olympic success continued with two golds and a silver at the Tokyo 1964 Games, three golds at the Mexico City 1968 Games, and a silver medal at both the Munich 1972 and the Montreal 1976 Games. Chandra Cheeseborough’s three-medal performance of two golds and silver at the Los Angeles 1984 Games capped the incredible achievements of these phenomenal, female athletes.

Feb. 3 - Olympic silver medalist Brigetta Barrett’s video introduction to Black History Month.

Feb. 2 - Danny Everett & Johhny Gray
On this day in 1992, Danny Everett broke the indoor world record in the 400 meters with a time of 45.02. Also on this day, Johnny Gray finished the 800m to set a new American indoor record of 1:45.08.

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