Wyomia Tyus (b. 1945)
Born in Griffin, in Spalding County, on August 29, 1945, Wyomia Tyus was the first person to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the 100-meter dash.
Edward Stanley Temple, coach of Tennessee State University's legendary Tigerbelles, noticed Tyus at the 1961 Georgia High School State Track Championships. Only fifteen years old, Tyus impressed Temple with her drive and determination. Temple invited Tyus to his summer track and field camp in Nashville, Tennessee. The next year Temple took Tyus to the 1962 Girls' Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) championships, where she set a new American record in the 100-yard dash. In 1963 she won her age group in the 100-yard dash for a second time and competed in her first AAU senior meet, finishing second in the 100-yard dash to Edith McGuire.
Also in 1963, Tyus accepted a scholarship to TSU. Now officially a Tigerbelle, Tyus continued to train and excel under the influence of Temple.
During the Mexico City games in 1968, Tyus faced an atmosphere of racial tension. African American athletes threatened to boycott the games.
After the 1968 Olympics Tyus retired to Los Angeles, California, married Duane Tillman, and had a daughter, Simone, and a son, Tyus. In 1973 she was invited to compete in the 60-yard dash in the new Professional International Track Association competitions. Her first year back she won eight of eighteen events, but the following year she won every event she entered, a total of twenty-two races. Tyus went on to coach at Beverly Hills High School and was a founding member of the Women's Sports Foundation, for which she also served as an advisory board member. One of the most popular runners in history, Tyus capitalized on her celebrity by serving as a goodwill ambassador to Africa. She has been inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame (1976), the National Track and Field Hall of Fame (1980), and the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame (1981).
Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Outdoor Sports, ed. David L. Porter (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988), s.v. "Tyus, Wyomia."
Elaine M. Blinde, "Wyomia Tyus," in Great Athletes, rev. ed. (Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2002).
Janet Woolum, Outstanding Women Athletes: Who They Are and How They Influenced Sports in America, 2d ed. (Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1998).
Lisa A. Ennis, Georgia College and State University
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