Best Books About Black Female Sportswomen – Part 2

Evonne Goolagong lifts the trophy after beating Margaret Court in straight sets (Photo by S&)

The athletics track nowadays is an arena where many black women from around the world excel. In the sprint races the field is dominated by runners of an Afro-Caribbean origin with the longer distance races being competed for by many women from East Africa.

One of the United States most successful sprinters has been Florence Griffith Joyner. Her career as a sprinter saw her culminating in winning three gold medals at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. It was during this period that she broke the world record times in both the 100m and the 200m. Both of these records stand today.

The colorful attire of Florence Griffith Joyner

What made “Flo Jo” stand out was her style with brightly colored nails and hair she was always the first to wear new fashions such as the all-in one leotard running suit. In “Flo Jo The story of Florence Griffith Joyner” by Alan Venable, her career is looked at in light of her being one of the most active athletes in securing sponsorship deals.

In today’s athletics, an athlete’s image is almost as important as their performances and advertising can promote individuals into the forefront of a nation’s attention. This was certainly the case at the 2012 Olympic Games in London with the home country’s expectation being heaped on the shoulders of Jessica Ennis Hill.

Having a white mother and a Jamaican father Hill was the face of multicultural Britain, and she had natural beauty to go with her brilliance as a heptathlon competitor. In her autobiography “Unbelievable” she tells her story how she had to cope with the levels of expectation in order to realize her child hood dreams.

Another black female who had to cope with country’s high levels of expectation was Kathy Freeman, the 400 meters runner, who appeared in the 2000 Olympics in Australia. The 400-meter runner went into the Games as Australia’s only realistic chance of a gold medal.

Running to Olympic Gold Cathy Freeman

Coming from the country’s Aborigines community, in her autobiography she reflected of the instances of racism that she encountered on her journey to her gold medal. Her career had seen her finally specializing in the 400 meters but she was an outstanding 200 meter runner as well.

The problems that the Aborigine community have suffered in Australia have been well documented, and another sportsman who has overcome racism has been the tennis player Evonne Goolagong-Cawley. During her career she won the Australian Open four times, Wimbledon twice and also won in Paris in 1971.

She was raised by her parents who were Aboriginal sheep farmers, but was spotted by a local resident Bill Kurtzman just playing tennis in a local park. He alerted tennis school owner Vic Edwards who persuaded her parents to allow him to take the young Evonne to school in Sydney in order to realize her tennis potential.

This remarkable story is told in Phil Jarratt’s biography “Home: The Evonne Goolagong Story”. For her career to have taken shape as it did, there needed to be a number of fortunate events to have taken place so that this could happen. It did and she joins a long list of black women that are indebted to “lady luck” to have taken place in order for their careers to start.

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