Evelyn Ashford is a renowned sprinter and five-time Olympian. She became the first woman to run 100 meters in under 11 seconds in 1984 and the oldest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in track and field in 1992.
Ashford was born in Louisiana in 1957. She was inspired to be a runner in her early teens and admired Wilma Rudolph. When she heard about her Rudolph’s accomplishments, she wanted to be just like her. She attended Roseville High School in California. She made her first Olympic debut in 1976 at the Olympic games in Montreal, Canada. She came in fifth place in the 100-meter dash.
By 1977, Ashford was one of the world’s greatest sprinters. She went on to help UCLA win the 1977 AIAW Outdoor competition. In 1979, at the World Cup, she came in first in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes. Due to the boycott of the Olympics in 1980, she was unable to compete, but in 1983, she set the world record in the 100 meter with a 10.79-second finish.
In the mid-1980s, Ashford began going through personal changes. In 1984, she decided to part ways with long-time coach Pat Conolly. She also welcomed her first child with husband Ray Washington in 1985.
Ashford experienced her last Olympic win in 1992, as a member of the 400-meter relay team that won gold at the Games held in Barcelona, Spain. Following the ’92 Olympics, she retired from competition. Ashford has been honored numerous times over the years for her many contributions to her sport. She was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1997.