Kathy McMillan

Year Honored:
Tennessee State University


When Kathy McMillan climbed to the awards stand to accept a silver medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, she was virtually unknown and about to enter Tennessee State University as a freshman. But from that day forward, the track and field world became quite aware of the name Kathy McMillan. She earned her renown by being one of the top three long jumpers in the world for over five years in every major track meet held, except for the 1980 Olympics, boycotted by the U.S. Coach Ed Temple, who saw over thirty-five of his Tigerbelles make Olympic teams, including the legendary Wilma Rudolph, said of McMillan: “She is the most fierce competitor I have ever coached. She thrives on pressure. The greater it is, the better she is. I have never seen an athlete with more determination.” McMillan’s accomplishments are lengthy and impressive. She is the first American woman to long jump twenty-two feet. She was a gold-medal winner in the 1979 Pan American Games, and won three AAU titles. But McMillan could also run! She helped set a world mark in the 880-yard relay in 1978 and was on a 440-yard relay team that set an American record indoors and out in 1980. Yet another Olympic star from the legendary TSU track and field program, Kathy McMillan played her part in bringing pride and excellence to that fine university and the state of Tennessee.

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