Olympic gold medallist Willie
18 June 2002 – Willie Davenport, one of the few athletes to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, suffered a fatal heart attack on Monday night at an international airport in Chicago. He was 59.
Born on June 8, 1943, in Troy, Alabama, Davenport was a four-time competitor at the Summer Olympic Games as a high hurdler. He achieved a unique distinction in 1980 by becoming one of the few athletes to ever compete in both Summer and Winter Olympic Games. That year, Davenport competed in the Winter Olympics as a bobsledder but did not place.
His Olympic credentials on the track, however, were far more impressive. He won the gold medal at the 1968 Olympics with a meet record 13.3.
“From the first step, the gun, I knew I had won the race,” he said afterward. “It was perhaps the only race I ever ran that way, but that first step was so perfect, right on the money.” In other Olympic appearances he failed to make the final in 1964, was fourth in 1972 and third in 1976.
He competed as late as 1984 and made a bid for the Olympic team but was stopped by injury. He won or shared nine AAU high hurdles titles, five of them indoors. As a collegian, he competed for Southern University in Louisiana. After his competitive career, he became an officer in the U.S. Army. He was elected to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1990.