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Female Athletes

Evelyn Ashford:

Ashford is simply one of the most accomplished American sprinters in history. She competed at four Olympic Games, won an individual 100 meter title, and brought home a total of five Olympic medals. She lowered the World Record at 100m twice (best of 10.76), and broke the American Record at 100 meters and 200 meters a total of eight times. Evelyn was the first American woman to break through two sprint barriers: 11.0 seconds for 100 meters, and 22.0 seconds for 200 meters. She was voted the 1979 and 1980 Woman Athlete of the Year. In the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Ashford, at the age of 35, becoming the oldest American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in track and field. She was inducted into Track and Field and Women’s Sports Halls of Fame in 1997. For a more complete biography see an article entitled "Running with Spirit". Her list of film highlights include:

Joan Benoit Samuelson:

Joan won the first ever Olympic marathon for women in dramatic style during the 1984 Games of Los Angeles. Her time of 2:24:52 was faster than 13 of 20 of the previous Olympic men’s marathon winning times. She won the Boston marathon in 1979 and then again in 1983 with a World’s Best mark of 2:22:43. Joan placed 13th in the Olympic trials in 1996 and on the hot day in 2000 at age 42 she placed 9th with a time of 2:39:59. She has qualified for the 2004 Olympic Trials by running 2:42:28 at the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. Not surprisingly, Joan has recorded one of the highest VO2 Max value for women at 78.6. Some of the tapes that feature footage of her great performances include:

Gail Devers:

From the beginning at UCLA, Devers has been setting records. She started with an NCAA victory in 1988 where she also captured the American record (12.61) in the 100 meter hurdles. Devers has lowered this mark six times to the current 12.33 and was ranked first in the world for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Her blazing speed has also enabled her to strike Olympic gold in the 100 meter event as well as on 4 x 100 meter relay teams. You may call Gail Devers National Champion, World Champion, or Olympic Champion, as she has reached every level within her sport, yet more action is still to come. Her career was threatened with Graves disease which she overcame in one of the most difficult challenges she has faced. See the fine photo gallery, as well as her career highlights, at her official web site: Gail

Mildred "Babe" Didricksen Zaharias:

This groundbreaking athlete from Texas broke into track and field at the 1932 AAU Championships where she placed in seven events, single-handedly winning the team championship and setting three World’s Records. In the 1932 Olympic Games she won two gold medals competing in the Javelin and 80 yard Hurdles. What makes her remarkable was how she excelled at so many sports beyond track and field including: Swimming; tennis; baseball, her nickname "Babe" came from hitting five home runs in one game; basketball, playing with the Golden Cyclones; bowling; billiards; and golf where she won 82 tournaments in a 20-year career. She was named the outstanding woman athlete of the century in a 1950 Associated Press poll. She died six years later of cancer at the age of 42.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee:

From 1986 to 1996 Jackie Joyner-Kersee dominated the seven event heptathlon (and was also a World and Olympic champion, as well as World Record holder, in the Long Jump set in 1987: 7.45m/24’5½"). She was the first woman to break 7000 points (the only other athlete to accomplish this is Russia’s Larisa Nikitina with 7007 in 1989), and set four World Records between July 1986 and September 1988 with her best being 7291 points. Joyner-Kersee was 5 points out of the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics and then took the title in 1988 and 1992 before injuring her hamstring in the hurdle event during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. She also won two World Championship titles, Rome in 1987 and Stuttgart in 1993. If you do not think of running when you think of the heptathlon than consider that during her Seoul Olympic World Record performance she ran 12.69 in the high hurdles, 22.56 in the 200 meters, and 2:08.51 in the 800 meters to secure the gold medal. To witness some of her performances tune to one of the following video tapes:

Wilma Rudolph:

(June 23, 1940 - November 12, 1994)
After winning a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympic 4 x 100 meter relay at the age of 16, Wilma returned to the Olympic arena in Rome four years later to become the first American women to win three gold medals (100 M, 200 M, and 4 x 100 relay). Being the 20th of her father’s 22 children, she was born prematurely and had to overcome numerous ailments including double pneumonia, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, chicken pox, as well as polio that put her in metal leg braces from the age of 6 to 12. To read more about Wilma’s groundbreaking accomplishments and awards you can read an article from ESPN entitled Rudolph ran and world went wild or select from one of the following fine films that feature her races:

Grete Waitz:

Known to many as the pioneer of women’s marathon running, Grete Waitz of Norway left the track, where she had set two world records in the 3,000 meters (best of 8:45.4), and found her niche at the longer distances on the roads. She won the New York City Marathon nine times between 1978 and 1988 setting world’s records on her first outing (2:32:29) and again the following two years. Waitz was the first woman under the 2:30 mark and her last of four world records was set on the London Marathon course in 1983 with a time of 2:25:28. During the inaugural women’s marathon in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Waitz brought home a silver medal (even though she was troubled by severe back pain prior to this race). Waitz was honored with a statue located outside the Bislett Stadium in Oslo and each year since 1984 women have gathered by tens of thousands to participate in the "Grete Waitz Race" that starts each May in Vigeland Sculpture Park. If you want to relive some of her great performances, or learn some tips and strategies from an expert, than watch one of the following videos:
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