Legendary Tennessee State University track coach Ed Temple has been selected a member of many Halls of Fame during his amazing career. But last Thursday’s ceremonies in Chicago were still special. The 84-year-old Temple was formally inducted into the 2012 U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. The ceremonies were held at the Harris Theatre in Chicago, and will be televised on the NBC Sports Network Aug. 24 at 6 p.m.
Ed Temple began coaching long before Title IX made it mandatory for major colleges to provide opportunities for women athletes to compete. He started at Tennessee State University as an unpaid coach, and used his own resources and money to get his athletes to meets. Temple’s TSU tenure lasted from 1953 until 1994.
The late Wilma Rudolph put Temple and TSU on the world map in the 1960 Rome Olympics. She became the fi rst woman to win three gold medals, capturing that honor in the 100 and 200 meter races, plus being part of the 4 X 100 relay team. “I wasn’t sure what to expect in Rome, we were just hoping to get someone up on the platform,” Temple told the Nashville City Paper last week. “But Wilma just ran away with the races.” Rudolph’s success was just the beginning of TSU women excelling in Olympic competition.
Perhaps the most amazing part of Rudolph’s incredible 1960 Olympics came during the 4 X 100 relay. She initially mis-timed the baton handoff with Lucinda Williams, who was running the third leg. Fortunately, Rudolph remained in the passing zone and the two were able to get the baton successfully exchanged. Rudolph simply blew past her competition on the anchor leg, overhauling everyone after 75 meters and then breezing into the finish line.
Wyomia Tyus won two gold medals in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, then became the first woman to repeat as 100 meter champion in the 1968 Mexico City competition. Tyus also set world records in the 100 and 4 X 100 relay in 1964. That year Edith McGuire Duvall also broke Rudolph’s 200 record. Madeline Manning Mims won an Olympic gold medal at Mexico City in the 800 meters, the fi rst and only American woman to achieve that feat. Chandra Cheeseborough (Guice) was the fi rst woman to win gold in both the 4 X 100 and 4 X 400 relays in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
The overall mark for Temple’s athletes is an astonishing 27 Olympic medals. That’s in addition to 30 Pan-American medals and 34 national team titles.
“I am excited to hear that Coach Temple has been inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame,” Cheeseborough (Guice), now the TSU track and field director, said on the school’s website. “He deserves it. We have put so many athletes into the Olympics, thanks to his hard work and dedication.”
Temple also put just as much emphasis on academics as athletics, with almost all his team earning their undergraduate degrees and many going on to achieve graduate honors. Temple was a three-sport star as an athlete in Harrisburg, Penn., so he understood the rigors and challenges involved in competition. He also knew that there was very little money available at HBCU’s for women’s athletics in the ‘50s and early ‘60s, so he trained his team to overlook the hardships and concentrate on the task on hand, which was winning championships and medals.
The Olympic Hall of Fame induction adds one more jewel to Ed Temple’s glittering legacy. He’s already a member of the Tennessee, TSU, Pennsylvania, Ohio Valley Conference, Black Athletes and Communiplex Halls of Fame.
Indeed, though not a woman, a logical case could also be made that he deserves some sort of recognition from the various college/pro Halls of Fame for women athletes as well. No track coach, male or female, championed the cause of equality for female athletes with more success than Ed Temple.
Photo By: Tennessee State Athletics Media Relations