Evelyn Ashford

Track & Field

High School: Roseville

College: UCLA​

* Double Oympic Gold Medalist 1984 Los Angeles -  100m, 4x100m Relay
* Olympic Gold Medalist 1988 Seoul - 4x100m Relay
​* Olympic Silver Medalist 1988 Seoul - 100m
​* Olympic Gold Medalist 1992 Barcelona - 4x100m Relay
​* U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame 2005, National Track & Field Hall of Fame 1997 and

    UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame 1990

“I have such fond memories of those days. It was such an important part of my life because that is where I grew up.  I am very honored to be inducted and included as part of the great tradition of our area." 

Evelyn Ashford was born in Shreveport Louisiana. Being part of a military family, she moved quite a few times growing up.  She went to four different schools in four different cities before her father, Sam, was transferred to McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento.

 

She was a quiet child who loved to read and sew. She always got along with everyone, but she had another side of her that loved to compete. Evelyn always loved to run, even as a small girl.  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."

 

It then became her focus and determination to become a great runner.  “I remember her playing football with the boys to improve her track and field,” said her mother Vietta.  “She always loved to sew and read, but running was her favorite because she was so good.”

 

Evelyn moved to the Sacramento area in 1973 with her family, and attended Roseville High School.  She was the star of the Tigers track team and set numerous records during her high school years.  She was even challenged by the fastest boy on the track team to an unofficial “race-off” to see who was fastest.  It soon became a big event and most of the school came out to see this after-school race.   Evelyn proved that speed isn’t determined by gender.

 

She earned a scholarship to UCLA and was so impressive that after her freshmen year she earned a spot on the United States Olympic team. At 19 years old, she competed in the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal: finishing in 5th place in the 100 meters. Before long, Evelyn emerged as one of the world's greatest sprinters.  She helped UCLA win the 1977 AIAW Outdoor competition.

 

The Eastern Europeans were dominating the sprint events in women’s track and field and it was Evelyn’s mission to change that.  In 1979, she beat the world record holders in both the 100 and 200 meters at the World Cup of Track and Field.  She was the favorite to win the Gold medal in the1980 Olympics.  However, like many American’s her hopes were crushed when she didn’t get the opportunity to compete because the United States boycotted the games in Moscow. She would have to wait four years before she would get the chance to attempt to capture an Olympic medal. 

 

Evelyn’s work ethic and determination would not be put on hold as she prepared for the 1984 Games.  She was in prime form setting the world record in 1983 in the 100 meters in 10.79 seconds: becoming the first woman in the world to ever run under 11 seconds. She held that record for five years and was now ready for the 84 Olympic Games on her home turf in Los Angeles.  It was Evelyn’s time to shine and she didn’t disappoint.  She won the Gold Medal in the 100m, setting a new Olympic record.  She also claimed a second Gold in the 4 x 100 meter relay.  Also in 1984, she broke her own world record: running the 100-meter race in 10.76 seconds. Everyone knew the name of Evelyn Ashford: she was feared by her competitors, respected by her teammates, and loved by her fans.  In 1985, while still preparing for her next Olympics, Evelyn and her husband, Ray Washington, welcomed a baby girl, Raina.  In 1988, she captured more Gold; but her proudest moment was being selected as the United States flag bearer during the Opening Ceremonies in the Seoul, South Korea games.  She repeated in the 400 meter relay with another Gold medal, while sprinting to a Silver in the 100m. 

 

By the time the next Games would come around Evelyn would be 35 years old but that wasn’t going to stop her.  History was made at the 1992 Barcelona games, as she became the oldest woman to ever win an Olympic Gold Medal in Track and Field!  Evelyn’s Olympic career spanned over five Olympiads and she competed in four Olympic Games winning six medals in all - four Gold Medals and two Silvers. Evelyn has been honored numerous times over the years for her contributions to her sport including induction into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. 

 

Evelyn is one of the greatest track and field athletes in American history and is the most decorated Olympic sprinter ever to come from the Sacramento area. She is remembered for being one of the all-time greats in any sport from our area.