August 6, 2008
Tuskegee, Al. - Less than two days until the 2008 Summer Olympics begin in China.
On the eve of the opening of the Beijing games, Albany native Alice Coachman will mark the 60th anniversary of her become the first African American woman to win a gold medal.
Sixty years ago in London.
The women on the United State Olympic track team had had a disappointing meet.
Only one bronze and that made for a cranky coach.
Alice Coachman was the last chance in the long jump.
Coachman said "She could cuss all she wanted. She could fuss all she want but I said to God all I wanted to say. If if it His will, let it be done. He give me the strength and the courage to go on and do my best and that is what I did."
Alice let her legs do the talking.
Jumping higher than she ever had before.
Coachman set an Olympic record at the time with a jump 5' 6 1/4".
Coachman said "I didn't know I had won. I was just jumping until I could jump no more."
Coacham is from Albany but now lives in Tuskegee where the town's mayor Johnny Ford spent some time with one of his favorite former teachers.
Ford said "Thank you for your life of inspiration."
Now 85, Alice Coachman wants to be remembered for two things.
Winning and giving.
Coachman said "I have given up a lot for track and field for young kids. You don't have to be rich to be a winner. You just have to work hard and decide you are going to be somebody like I did. I wanted to make my momma happy. That was the first thing I wanted to about winning. I wanted my momma to be happy."
Tuskegee will honor Alice Coachman Thursday night at downtown square on the 60th anniversary of her historic Olympic jump that paved the way for other African American women to claim Olympic gold for the next six decades.
Story by: Jeff Shearer-WSFA-TV