Evelyn Ashford biography
Born in Louisiana on April 15, 1957, Olympic medalist Evelyn Ashford started competing in high school. She attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was a track star. Ashford won two 1979 World Cup titles, then won another two world championships in 1981. At the 1984 Olympics, Ashford won the gold medal in the 100-meter dash. In 1984, she set a world record for being the first woman to run 100 meters in under 11 seconds. In 1986, she finished first in the Goodwill Games, and two years later, she won both gold and silver. In 1992, Ashford became the oldest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in track and field.
Young Track Star
Born on April 15, 1957, in Shreveport, Louisiana, Evelyn Ashford is a Olympic champion who won five medals during her athletic career. She was inspired to become a runner in her early teens. As Ashford explained to The New York Times, "I was 12 when I first heard about Wilma Rudolph and since I knew I could run I wanted to be like her."
Ashford attended Roseville High School in California. After high school, she went to the University of California, Los Angeles, where she began working with coach Pat Connolly. Ashford was only a freshman when she made her Olympic debut at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada. There, she placed fifth in the 100-meter dash.
Before long, Evelyn Ashford had emerged as one of the world's greatest sprinters. She helped UCLA win the 1977 AIAW Outdoor competition, and after graduating in 1978, she continued to be a leading force in her sport. At the 1979 World Cup, Ashford came in first in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Originally hoping to capture Olympic gold, she had to miss out on the 1980 Games due to the United States' boycott of the event, but did set a world record in the 100 meters in 1983 with a 10.79-second finish.
On her home turf, Ashford clinched gold at the 1984 Olympics in L.A., winning the top honor in the 100 meters—and setting a new Olympic record for the event—with a 10.97-second finish. Ashford took home another gold that year as part of the 400-meter relay team. Also in '84, she broke her own world record, running the 100-meter race in 10.76 seconds during a competition in Zurich, Switzerland.
Ashford went through some changes following the 1984 Games—both personally and professionally. During this period, she parted with longtime coach Pat Conolly and welcomed her first child with husband Ray Washington, daughter Raina Ashley, in 1985. Continuing to compete, Ashford participated in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, where she won silver in the 100 meters, coming in second to Florence Griffith-Joyner. Ashford was part of the gold medal-winning 400-meter team in '88, as well.
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, and joined other distinguished athletes in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2005.