Wyomia Tyus

Ali on the Run Show Episode 408: Wyomia Tyus, 1964 & 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist

“You always have to stay in the fight.”

It is an honor and a privilege to get to share this very special conversation with the legendary Wyomia Tyus today! Wyomia Tyus, now 75, is a two-time Olympian and four-time medalist (three gold, one silver). She competed in the 1964 Games in Tokyo at 19 years old (just like Athing Mu!), and again at the 1968 Games in Mexico City, where she became the first person to ever win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in the 100 meters. On this episode, Wyomia tells her life story, reflecting on growing up as the youngest of four kids in the Jim Crow South, and dealing with racism and segregation at a young age. She shares the story of her house burning down when she was 14 and, one year later, the death of her father. She talks about meeting coach Ed Temple, who took her under his wing and coached her to all four Olympic medals while also filling the void left by her father’s passing. Plus, she talks about her role in the 1968 Olympic protests, and what it was like being in Mexico City during a time of so much political and social unrest. (If you love Wyomia’s story — which I think you will! — you can hear more from her in her book, Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story.)

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What you’ll get on this episode:

  • Wyomia talks about what it’s been like watching this year’s Olympics in Tokyo (4:50)
  • What Wyomia’s childhood was like, growing up in Georgia (8:30)
  • Reflecting on the year when Wyomia’s house burned down and, later, her dad died (14:30)
  • On meeting and being trained by the legendary coach Ed Temple at Tennessee State University (18:30)
  • How Wyomia developed confidence on the run (27:45)
  • Wyomia’s experience competing at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo (36:00)
  • On returning home after the Games (55:15)
  • What it was like going to the Olympics in Mexico City to defend her title in the 100m (57:40)
  • How Wyomia felt when she heard a broadcaster say Carl Lewis was the first person to run back-to-back 100m races — when it was actually Wyomia who had done that (1:05:00)
  • Being a part of the protests at the 1968 Olympic Games (1:06:30)
  • Dancing the “Tighten Up!” (1:13:45)
  • Wyomia’s decision to step away from competing after the 1968 Games (1:16:00)
  • What it was like being at the opening of Wyomia Tyus Olympic Park (1:18:00)
  • Wyomia’s message to this year’s Olympic athletes (1:25:10)

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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