BLACK LIVES MATTER PART 2.
Thank you reader, for your continued support on this website while it has been quiet lately. Recently, I have been spending my time and efforts into developing my YouTube channel ‘Nayemma‘, which covers the same topics as this website (health, fitness and the Olympics). If you are interested, it would mean a lot if you would take a look at my channel and consider subscribing.
I am already a great admirer of all the athletes mentioned in this post, and I would have written this post anyway for the build up to the Games, regardless of the circumstances going on in the world. But, in light of recent events, I have decided that it would be greatly important to acknowledge and share with you, inspiring black female athletes sooner rather than later – particularly track and field athletes of the Olympics. This blog post will also be made into a YouTube video, so if you’d prefer to listen, please head over to the Nayemma YouTube channel.
In no particular order, it gives me great pleasure to showcase many talented black female athletes from around the world, both past and present, who are particularly inspirational, have made a difference for their communities and, made history! Please note this is part 2. There is a part 1, which showcases iconic and talented black male athletes. You can find that blog HERE and you can also head over to my YouTube channel.
Pickett was an African-American hurdler and she was the first African-American woman to compete at the Games. Pickett competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in the 80m hurdle event.
Alice Coachman Davis
Coachman Davis was an African-American high jumper and was the first African-American to win a gold medal at the Games. She won her gold at the 1948 London Games.
Ashford is an African-American sprinter and she is the first female sprinter to have ran the 100m in under 11 seconds – This was first achieved at the 1984 Los Angeles Games at the age of 27, and she went on to achieve the under 11 second barrier more than 30 times in her career!
She is a 5 x Olympic medalist, winning 2 golds at the 1984 Los Angeles Games (100m and 4 x 100m), gold and silver at the 1988 Seoul Games, where she was also the flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony (4 x 100m and 100m respectively) and gold at the 1992 Barcelona Games (4 x 100m).
Florence Griffith Joyner
Regarded as the fastest woman of all time, Joyner was an American sprinter who specialised in 100m, 200m, 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m. In fact, her sprint records for the 100m and 200m sprint still stand. She was awarded with 1 silver at the 1984 Los Angeles Games (200m) and 3 golds and 1 silver at the 1988 Seoul Games (100m, 200m, 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m respectively). Will we see a new world record for the 100m and 200m next year at the Tokyo 2021 Games?
American sprinter Rudolph was the first American woman to win three gold medals at the same Olympic Games. Her talents came with a lot of fame across the world and because of this, she became an iconic role model for female athletes and black athletes. Along with her three golds which she won at the 1960 Rome Games for 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m, she also won a bronze at the previous 1956 Melbourne Games for the 4 x 100m.
Jackie Joyner Kersee
Regarded as one of the best athletes for the heptathlon and long jump is America’s Joyner-Kersee. She is a 6 x Olympic medalist, winning medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Games (silver – heptathlon), 1988 Seoul Games (gold – heptathlon and long jump), 1992 Barcelona Games (gold – heptathlon; bronze – long jump), 1996 Atlanta Games (bronze long jump). Not to mention she is also a 4 x World Champion for long jump and heptathlon (1987 Rome; 1991 Tokyo; 1993 Stuttgart). To date, she is still the world record holder for the heptathlon.
Rose Nathike Lokonyen
Lokonyen is an 800m athlete originally from South Sudan who was one of the first athletes to be chosen to compete for the world’s first Refugee Olympic Team. Lokonyen was also the flag bearer for her team at the Opening Ceremony. She may not have made it further than the first round at the Olympics, however she is an inspiration who has not let her circumstances affect her direction in life.
Known as the Pocket Rocket, Jamaican sprinter (100m, 200m and 4 x 100m) Shelley-Ann Fraser Pryce is one of the most decorated sprinters in history and she is the only sprinter in history to have won so many global 100m sprint titles. She was the first Caribbean woman to win gold in the 100m, when she competed at her first Games, the 2008 Beijing Games at just 21 years old. At her next Games, the London 2012 Games, she was the third woman in history to defend a 100m title. At the next Games after that, the 2016 Rio Games, she was the first woman in the history to win medals for the 100m at three consecutive Games.
Furthermore, she is the only sprinter in history to be World Champion of the 100m four times and, the only female sprinter to win gold in three events (100m, 200m and 4 x 100m) at the same World Championships! She is very passionate about proving that becoming a mother does not mean that you have to give up your sport, or that you cannot win! Let’s see what she can do at next year’s 2021 Tokyo Games!
South Africa’s Semenya, who won gold in the 800m in London and Rio, has been in a 10 year battle with the IAAF. Semenya was registered as female on her birth certificate, was raised as a girl and identifies as female. However, due to her dominance in her events, she was forced to undergo a sex test, as the IAAF believed her not to be 100% female. It is reported that her biological body is what is known as intersex, and this is the reason for her ‘high levels of testosterone’ of which are creating an ‘unfair physiological advantage over her rivals’. As a result, Semenya was ordered to take testosterone lowering drugs in order to compete and she complied with little choice temporarily, given that this is her career and she’d have to say farewell to sponsorship deals.
Semenya has appealed to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, who have told the IAAF to lift their new regulations (whereby high levels of blood testosterone need to be medically lowered for at least 6 months and then for the remainder of the athletics career). Since then, Semenya has not only switched sports to play football, but has also switched events to 200m sprint. This means that Semenya can compete, without taking testosterone lowering drugs. This is because sprinting uses a different energy system in the body (the glycolytic system) and is not aided by testosterone. Therefore, she will not have a physiological advantage against her fellow competitors in this event, compared to the 800m. Though it could be argued that she is now at a disadvantaged having trained for middle distance for years and will now be competing against 200m specialists!
Semenya is fighting hard for her rights. The investigations as to whether she is male or female has been widely regarded as sexist, an invasion of privacy, racist, against human rights and also, a way to prevent South Africans from doing well at the Games! The level of testosterone in her body is natural. This therefore raises several questions including: ‘shouldn’t athletes be allowed to compete regardless of their natural bodily state?’ and ‘shouldn’t we be celebrating the wonders of the natural body?’ instead of trying to alter it into preferred ideals that are regarded as ‘acceptable’?
American sprinter (100m, 200m and 400m) Allyson Felix, is a six-time Olympic gold medalist, and is the only athlete to have received the Jesse Owens award (athlete of the year, see part 1) five times. Felix has also recently broken one of Usain Bolt’s records, and is now regarded as the most successful track and field athlete at the World Championships! Shortly after giving birth via emergency c-secion, Felix won another gold while competing at the Doha championships 2019 – a true inspiration! Bringing her total World Championship gold medals to 13, after winning and breaking the record for the 4 x 400m mixed-gender relay!
Felix, along with Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, equally argue the importance of proving to men and women around the world that it is possible to be a mother and still be at the top of your game – it does not have to be one or the other! If Felix isn’t a role model for young girls and women, then I don’t know who is!
That concludes today’s list of inspiring black male track and field athletes from around the world who have competed at the Olympics. Comment down below on who your favourite is and why! If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out part 1, where we share inspiring black male track and field athletes.
© 2020. Naomi Laws. All rights reserved