Black in the Day…We Run It

October 15, 1968:

On this day Wyomia Tyus became the first athlete — man or woman — in Olympic history to win gold medals in consecutive 100-meter events, a feat that took two decades to overcome.

Tyus attended Tennessee State University and participated in the 1964 Summer Olympics at age 19. In the heats of the event, she equaled Wilma Rudolph‘s world record, propelling her to a favored position for the final, where her main rival was fellow American Edith McGuire. Tyus won the final, beating McGuire by 0.2 seconds. At the same Olympics, she also won a silver medal with the 4 × 100 m relay team.[1]

The following years, Tyus won numerous national championships in the sprint events, and a gold medal in the 200 m at the Pan-American Games. In 1968, she returned to the Olympics to defend her title in the 100 m. In the final, she set a new world record of 11.08 s to become the first person, male or female, to retain the Olympic 100 metres title.[4] Tyus also qualified for the 200 m final, in which she finished sixth. Running the final leg for the relay team, Tyus helped setting a new world record, winning her third gold medal. The following year Tyus entered professional track competitions and later worked as a television sports commentator.

She has been inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame (1976), the National Track and Field Hall of Fame (1980), and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame (1981). In 1999 her hometown Griffin, Georgia honored her with the unveiling of the Wyomia Tyus Olympic Park.[7] The 2010 Breeder’s World Cup featured a two-year-old filly racing horse bearing her namesake.[8] In 2018 she published the memoir Tigerbelle : the Wyomia Tyus story, with co-author Elizabeth Terzakis; it is part of Dave Zirin‘s Edge of Sports series.

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