While Black America in the 1960s was filled with marches, Freedom bus rides, protests and more of the Civil Rights Movement, there was another form of footwork being done in the realm of track and field. Edith McGuire sprinted into history by becoming a triple Olympic Champion at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Edith was the youngest of four children and began her track and field days in elementary school. Having participated in cheerleading, basketball and track in high school, McGuire chose to attend the Tennessee State University (TSU), a historically Black institution, on a track scholarship in the fall of 1961.
As a member of the stellar TSU “Tigerbelles” sprinting team, McGuire excelled in sprinting and long jumping. She was selected to represent Team USA at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, bringing home one gold, and two silver medals. She won gold in the 200m race, setting a world record of 23.0 seconds at the time, and silver in the 100m and 4x100m relay.
In addition to her Olympic achievements, McGuire won six Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) championships and is the only American woman to hold three titles at different times. She also competed in the Pan American Games in 1963 in São Paulo, winning Gold in 100m and Silver in the long jump.
Upon graduating from TSU, McGuire went on to teach in elementary education for nearly a decade. She later married Charles Duvall, and together they have opened a few fast-food restaurants in Oakland, California.
Since hanging up the spikes, McGuire has been inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, Track and Field Hall of Fame, and Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
For her strides of success in track and field, her story is iconic in Black sports history.