Willie Davenport Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
Childhood and Early Life
American sprint runner and US military officer Willie Davenport was William D Davenport born on the 8 June 1943 in Troy, Pike County, Alabama in the United States. He was the eldest of seven children. When he was nine years old, his family relocated to Warren in Ohio.
Willie Davenport graduated from Howland High School (1961) and later, after his discharge from the US Army, enrolled at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge in Louisiana. He graduated with a degree in Physical Education (1969).
Rise to Fame
At the high school, Willie Davenport excelled in all sports and baseball was his passion before he decided to concentrate on track events. At the high school, he set a state record in 120-yard hurdles. Once he had graduated in 1961, Davenport joined the U.S. Army as a paratrooper and was sent to Mainz in Germany (1961-1963). During his time in Germany, he focused on his hurdling technique.
Willie Davenport was a private in the US Army in 1964 when he won the 110m hurdles at the US Olympic trials. At the Summer Olympic Games held in Tokyo in 1964, he experienced a thigh injury and lost in the semi-finals. Davenport was discharged from the Army in 1965 and enrolled at Southern University and the A&M College. He became the national champion in his event for three consecutive years (1965-1967) and at the Summer Olympics held in Mexico City in 1968, he won a gold medal in the 110m event, his time was 13.3, which equalled the Olympic record.
At the 1972 Summer Olympics held in Munich, he finished fourth. In 1975, Davenport had many health issues including a blood clot on his lung and a knee injury. Despite his health issues, Davenport qualified for the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics and won a bronze medal. He was the national champion in his event five times: 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970 and 1971. At the 1980 Winter Olympics held in Lake Placid, New York, Davenport was a runner in the US bobsleigh team., becoming one of the few elite athletes to participate in both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games.
Willie Davenport was a member of the National Fitness Leaders Association, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the International Special Olympics, the National Black College Alumni Association and the National Guard Association. Davenport was a founder of the Southern University Track Club. He was also on the United States Olympic Committee’ Board of Directors and Executive from 1968 until 1980.
After joining the US Army National Guard, he rose to the rank of colonel. As Chief of the Office of Sports Management and coached the All-Army track teams to victory during 1993-1996.
Awards and Achievements
Willie Davenport was inducted into the Mt SAC Relays Hall of Fame in 1977 and into the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1982. In 1990, he was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame. In 1999 he was voted one of Louisiana’s 25 Greatest Athletics by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. Davenport was the fourth American track athlete to compete in both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games.
In 1969, Willie Davenport married Marian Calvey, with whom he had three children: two boys, Willie and Mark and a girl, Tanya. Willie Davenport died of a heart attack on the 17 June 2002; he was 59 years of age.