Ed Temple, coach of Wilma Rudolph, dies

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ed Temple, the former Tennessee State track and field coach whose Tigerbelles won 13 Olympic gold medals and helped break down racial and gender barriers in the sport, died Thursday night. He was 89.

Temple’s daughter, Edwina, told Tennessee State officials that her father died after an illness. He celebrated his birthday Tuesday.

“Words cannot in any fashion or manner express how deeply saddened we are over the loss of our beloved Ed Temple,” Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover said in a statement. “The TSU family has truly lost a precious gem and contributor to the history and legacy that is TSU. Most importantly, our hearts go out to his family.”

Temple coached the women’s track team at Tennessee State, formerly Tennessee A&I, from 1953 to 1994. He was head coach of the U.S. Olympics women’s teams in 1960 and 1964 and assistant coach in 1980.

One of the athletes he coached at TSU, Wilma Rudolph, became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics, in Rome in 1960. She won the 100 and 200 meters and teamed with Martha Hudson, Lucinda Williams and Barbara Jones to win the 400 relay.

Temple, whose other gold medalists from TSU included Edith McGuire and Wyomia Tyus, was inducted into nine halls of fame, including the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2012, where he was one of only four coaches to be inducted. He also served as a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, the international Women’s Track and Field Committee and the Nashville Sports Council.

Temple coached the first U.S. women’s teams to compete in the Soviet Union in 1958 and in China in 1975. But he was best known for leading the athletes at TSU, known as the Tigerbelles, during his 41 years as the university’s women’s track coach.

He coached his teams to more than 30 national titles and led 40 athletes to the Olympics.

For many of the women on his teams, Temple was more than a coach.

“I always looked at Coach Temple as a father figure and a man of truth and wisdom,” said TSU Olympian Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice, a former Tigerbelle who succeeded Temple as track and field coach. “He really brought out the best in me. He made me realize my potential that had not been tapped.”

Former Tigerbelle Edith McGuire Duvall said Temple was there for her after she lost her father.

“This man treated us all like his kids,” Duvall said. “He impressed upon me to finish school. We were there to run track, but also to get an education and to be ladies.”

Temple began his career during a time when black female athletes were treated as second-class citizens, even by their male counterparts.

At the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, the U.S. men’s team refused to provide Temple with clothes for a female shot putter who didn’t fit into the women’s uniform. His runners had to practice with Japanese starting blocks because the men’s team refused to turn over three blocks sent over for the women.

Still, Temple’s team brought home the gold and silver in the 100 meters, gold in the 200 and a medal performance in the 400 relay.

“Those were the kind of things we had to battle,” he said in June 1993 after retiring from coaching. “It was unnecessary types of things. We, the women, were USA citizens representing the United States. Why did we have to go through all that kind of stuff? It just didn’t make sense.”

In a 2007 interview with The Tennessean, Temple said Rudolph was the best female track and field athlete he’d ever seen.

“She had it all,” he said. “She had the charisma, she had the athletic ability, she had everything. When I look back, she opened up the door for women’s sports, period. I’m not just talking about track and field.”

Temple said Rudolph took a nap just before winning the 1960 gold medal in the 100.

“I was out there all nervous, walking around the infield,” he recalled. “And Wilma was on the rub-down table, and she had fallen asleep. Fell asleep!”

Rudolph, who suffered from polio as a child, died of brain cancer in 1994.

Temple was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and attended Tennessee A&I, where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

The track at TSU is named for Temple. So is Ed Temple Boulevard in Nashville, adjacent to the TSU campus. Seminars on sports and society, held each year on TSU’s campus, are named in his honor, and in 2015, a 9-foot bronze statue was unveiled in Temple’s likeness at First Tennessee Park in Nashville.

“Even the Bible says a prophet is seldom honored in his hometown,” U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper said at the statue’s unveiling. “But here we are honoring perhaps one of the greatest coaches in all of history.”

Temple took great pride in the success of his athletes, both on and off the field.

“They are an inspiration to everybody,” he said late in life. “It just shows what can be done. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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