29 September, 2020

Olympian Wyomia Tyus sprinted to gold and spoke out in Mexico City. America forgot her.


A sharecropper’s daughter, Tyus grew up on a dairy farm in rural Georgia during the Jim Crow era. She overcame family tragedy as a teenager and went on to win four Olympic medals, including the two 100-meter golds. She also set or equaled the 100-meter world record four times.

And yet, more than 50 years later, Tyus’s place as the first back-to-back 100 champion in Olympic history is often overlooked. [...]

One of Tyus’s proudest moments was returning to Griffin in 1999 for the opening of Wyomia Tyus Olympic Park — 164 acres featuring soccer and baseball fields, a lake for fishing, picnic areas and nature trails. More than 30 years after she had made Olympic history, her hometown was finally recognizing her.

“It means a lot more from my hometown to know that, as a Black person from Griffin, Georgia, they would do something like that,” Tyus said. “I never felt that they would.”

Tyus was inducted to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985. She’s encouraged by the progress that has been made for women’s sports and athletes but believes there is still a long way to go.