While we don’t have the Olympic Games right now, there’s no reason we can’t mark a pretty big Olympic moment that happened on this day in 1948.
It’s the day Alice Coachman became the first Black woman to win Olympic gold.
That’s right, before Allyson Felix, before FloJo, even before Wilma Rudolph, there was Alice Coachman.
She grew up in Albany, Georgia, where she wasn’t allowed to train with white athletes, and her parents thought her interest in sports wasn’t ladylike.
So she essentially trained herself, practicing jumps without the usual equipment (she made her own) and running on dirt roads without even shoes.
She overcame those obstacles with hard work, and it paid off, as she won championship after championship in high school and college as both a runner and a high jumper.
At the London Games, the high jump took place on the last day.
Up to that point, no American woman had won any gold medal.
Coachman jumped 5 feet, 6 1/8 inches – a new Olympic record – to win first place.
But it wasn’t immediately clear she had won gold, because UK high jumper Dorothy Tyler had also jumped that height. Coachman edged her out because she cleared the height on her first try.
The stadium put “A. COACHMAN, USA” in the first slot on the leader board, and played the national anthem. “It was wonderful to hear,” said the new Olympic champion.
The King of England presented Alice Coachman with the gold medal, President Harry Truman brought her to the White House, and Count Basie threw her a party. The white mayor of her own hometown refused to shake her hand at the local celebration. His loss.
Coachman retired from sports after the Games and would go on to be a schoolteacher; there’s an Alice Coachman Elementary School in Albany, Georgia, named for a woman who literally and symbolically raised the bar in American sports.
And before we wrap up for the week, let’s have a treat.
But first, a question: can chocolate chips be made more efficient?
Dandelion Chocolates in San Francisco has teamed up with an engineer at Tesla Motors to redesign the iconic chip.
They say it’s more effective in these geometric forms. I’m no expert here but I will be happy to test them out as many times as it takes to be sure.
A Tesla engineer designed the perfect chocolate chip (Fast Company)