Hopefully you’ve all seen some incredible Olympic performances this past weekend. The Opening ceremony was really exciting. Watching these premier American athletes compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics made me wonder about Alabama Olympians.
Many Summer Olympians have come from Alabama. Perhaps our most famous was American hero, Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. We have had other notable Olympians; Carl Lewis, Kristy Coventry, Rowdy Gaines and Mia Hamm.
Owens competed in Berlin and made a huge statement, competing at a time when there were not many African-Americans competing…and winning!
But Birmingham has an olympic athlete and gold medal winner in the Winter Olympics as well. Do you know about Vonetta Flowers, who was a student at UAB and was also a GOLD MEDAL winner for the USA?
In the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Vonetta Flowers, a brakeman on the women’s bobsled team, won Gold. Flowers became the first black women to ever win a medal in the Winter Olympics.
Bobsledding is not a traditional sport for southerners or black women of course. In less than one minute and 49 seconds, the daring young woman from Birmingham, AL left “permanent footprints in the snow.”
As a little girl Flowers dreamed of competing in the Summer Olympics. She was an original member of the Alabama Striders, a youth track program in here in Birmingham.
“Vonetta graduated from P.D. Jackson Olin High School in 1992, where she participated in track and field, volleyball and basketball. Vonetta became the first in her family to attend college, when she accepted a Track and Field scholarship to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.” www.VonettaFlowers.com
When an Olympic career in track and field did not materialize, Flowers answered an advertisement for the bobsled team and went on to make history. In 2002 she and her partner, Jill Bakken, won the first medal for a U.S. bobsled team in 46 years!
Click here to go to Bama Wiki to see a comprehensive list of other Alabama Olympians and where they competed. Alabama ranks 10th in the states producing Olympic athletes.
Here at Bham Now, we love all things Birmingham, but we are Americans first of course and most of us are loving the Olympic coverage. What are some of your favorite Olympic events?