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Willye White

Full name: Willye B. White
Nickname(s): Red
Gender: Female
Height: 5-4 (163 cm)
Weight: 123 lbs (56 kg)
Born: December 31, 1939 in Money, Mississippi, United States
Died: February 6, 2007 in Chicago, Illinois, United States
Affiliations: Mayor Daley Youth Foundation, Chicago (USA)
Country: USA United States
Sport: Athletics

Medals: 2 Silver (2 Total)

Biography

Willye White first competed in the Olympic Games in 1956 at Melbourne when she was only a 16-year-old high school sophomore. Despite her youth, she won a silver medal in the long jump behind Poland's Elżbieta Krzesińska. She also competed in the long jump at the 1960, 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympics, where she made the finals each time, although never again as a medalist. However, in 1964, she ran a leg on the USA's 4×100 metre relay team, and earned a second silver medal. White's 19-11¾ (6.09) long jump, which won her 1956 silver medal, was a US national record. She eventually set seven USA records in the long jump, her last being 21-6 (6.55) in 1964, a mark which stood until 1972. In her career, she won 13 national indoor and outdoor titles, and competed on 34 international teams, including the 1959, 1963, 1967, and 1971 Pan American teams for the United States. There she won gold in 1963 and bronze in 1959 and 1967 long jump. At the 1963 Pan American Games she also won gold with the 4×100 metres team (with Vivian Brown, Marilyn White, and the non-Olympian Norma Harris). Despite her athletic career she may be less remembered for that than her legacy as a person. One of her 1960 Olympic teammates, Donna de Varona, later a close friend, noted, "She grew up before the civil rights movement and overcame all the hurdles she had as an African-American woman." White later commented, "I started in athletics because athletics was my flight to freedom. Freedom from the delta cotton fields, bias, and prejudice of the South. I had no other choice. … Before my first Olympics, I though the whole world consisted of cross burnings and lynchings." She also noted of her Olympic career, "The Olympic Movement taught me not to judge a person by the color of their skin but by the contents of their hearts. I am who I am because of my participation in sports." White attended Tennesee State University, where she competed for the renowned Tigerbelles track & field teams. She moved to Chicago in 1960 and became a nurse, first at Cook County Hospital, then at the Greenwood Medical Center. In 1965 she became a public health administrator at the Chicago Health Department. Though she had not originally graduated from college, she returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree from Chicago State University in 1976. White remained active in sports, teaching and coaching athletes. She coached and managed at the 1981 World Cup and was head coach at the 1994 US Olympic Festival. In 1990, she founded WBW Hang on Productions, a sports and fitness consultancy. In 1991 she founded the Willye White Foundation, helping children to become productive citizens by teaching sports and teamwork to children in the nation's largest housing project. The Foundation included an after-school program, a summer day-camp, and healthcare for the children. De Varona noted, "For all the struggles she went through, she always gave back, she was always campaigning for equal education, equal rights." Another Olympic teammate, Pat Connolly (1960), spoke of her, "She was like a big sister. … It was a very unlikely friendship. I was raised a Mormon. … I knew nothing about blacks. … I had my eyes opened when I made the Olympic team and Wilma Rudolph and Cassius Clay and all these people became my teammates, but it was Willye who helped me learn and understand everything I needed to know. … She was one of America's best ambassadors for sport and humanity."

Personal Bests: 100 – 11.5 (1964); LJ – 21-6 (6.55) (1964).

Results

Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1956 Summer 16 Melbourne Athletics Women's Long Jump United States USA 2 Silver
1960 Summer 20 Roma Athletics Women's Long Jump United States USA 16
1964 Summer 24 Tokyo Athletics Women's 4 × 100 metres Relay United States USA 2 Silver
1964 Summer 24 Tokyo Athletics Women's Long Jump United States USA 12
1968 Summer 28 Ciudad de México Athletics Women's Long Jump United States USA 11
1972 Summer 32 München Athletics Women's Long Jump United States USA 11

Women's 4 × 100 metres Relay

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit Rank T(H) T(A) L
1964 Summer 24 Tokyo Athletics United States USA Final 2 43.9 43.92 5
1964 Summer 24 Tokyo Athletics United States USA Round One Heat Two 1 QU 44.8 44,83

Women's Long Jump

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank D BMD SBMD
1956 Summer 16 Melbourne Athletics United States Final Round 2 6.09
1956 Summer 16 Melbourne Athletics United States Final Round Round One 3 5.96
1956 Summer 16 Melbourne Athletics United States Final Round Round Two 3 5.91 5.96
1956 Summer 16 Melbourne Athletics United States Final Round Round Three 2 6.06 6.06
1956 Summer 16 Melbourne Athletics United States Final Round Round Four 2 5.95 6.06
1956 Summer 16 Melbourne Athletics United States Final Round Round Five 3 5.96 6.06
1956 Summer 16 Melbourne Athletics United States Final Round Round Six NP 6.09
1956 Summer 16 Melbourne Athletics United States Qualifying Round 2 QU 6.00
1960 Summer 20 Roma Athletics United States Final Round 16 5.77
1960 Summer 20 Roma Athletics United States Final Round Round One 13 5.77
1960 Summer 20 Roma Athletics United States Final Round Round Two 15 foul 5.77
1960 Summer 20 Roma Athletics United States Final Round Round Three 16 5.28 5.77
1960 Summer 20 Roma Athletics United States Qualifying Round 6 QU 6.07
1960 Summer 20 Roma Athletics United States Qualifying Round Round One 4 6.07
1960 Summer 20 Roma Athletics United States Qualifying Round Round Two 6 pass 6.07
1960 Summer 20 Roma Athletics United States Qualifying Round Round Three NP pass
1964 Summer 24 Tokyo Athletics United States Final Round 12 6.07
1964 Summer 24 Tokyo Athletics United States Final Round Round One 10 5.90
1964 Summer 24 Tokyo Athletics United States Final Round Round Two 13 5.65 5.90
1964 Summer 24 Tokyo Athletics United States Final Round Round Three 12 6.07 6.07
1964 Summer 24 Tokyo Athletics United States Qualifying Round 8T QU 6.28 NM
1964 Summer 24 Tokyo Athletics United States Qualifying Round Round One 5 6.28
1964 Summer 24 Tokyo Athletics United States Qualifying Round Round Two 8T pass 6.28 NM
1964 Summer 24 Tokyo Athletics United States Qualifying Round Round Three NP pass
1968 Summer 28 Ciudad de México Athletics United States Final Round 11 6.08
1968 Summer 28 Ciudad de México Athletics United States Final Round Round One 8 6.01
1968 Summer 28 Ciudad de México Athletics United States Final Round Round Two 10 5.44 6.01
1968 Summer 28 Ciudad de México Athletics United States Final Round Round Three 11 6.08 6.08
1968 Summer 28 Ciudad de México Athletics United States Qualifying Round 6 QU 6.42 6.17
1968 Summer 28 Ciudad de México Athletics United States Qualifying Round Group B 4 QU 6.42
1968 Summer 28 Ciudad de México Athletics United States Qualifying Round Group B Round One 7 6.17
1968 Summer 28 Ciudad de México Athletics United States Qualifying Round Group B Round Two 4 6.42 6.42
1968 Summer 28 Ciudad de México Athletics United States Qualifying Round Group B Round Three NP pass
1972 Summer 32 München Athletics United States Final Round 11 6.27
1972 Summer 32 München Athletics United States Final Round Round One 12 6.01
1972 Summer 32 München Athletics United States Final Round Round Two 11 6.27 6.27
1972 Summer 32 München Athletics United States Final Round Round Three 11 foul 6.27
1972 Summer 32 München Athletics United States Qualifying Round 5 QU 6.39 6.23
1972 Summer 32 München Athletics United States Qualifying Round Group B 5 6.39 6.23
1972 Summer 32 München Athletics United States Qualifying Round Group B Round One 11 6.23
1972 Summer 32 München Athletics United States Qualifying Round Group B Round Two 5 6.39 6.39 6.23
1972 Summer 32 München Athletics United States Qualifying Round Group B Round Three NP pass
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