Dianne Durham Biography Dianne Durham Wiki
The first African-American national gymnastics champion.
Dianne Durham, 52, the first African-American national gymnastics champion and sport pioneer, died of a brief illness, according to her husband Tom Drahozal.
Dianne Durham, the first AA USA champion in 1983, beating the likes of MLR and JMc, injury stop her from being at the 1984 Olympics but let’s never forget her….. and keep her in your thoughts and prays…. pic.twitter.com/ZDJvAEFX77
— Makayla Loves Gymnastics (@GymnasticLoves) February 3, 2021
Durham died in a Chicago hospital with Drahozal and her sister Alice Durham alongside her. She was 52 years old.
“It happened peacefully,” Drahozal told ESPN. “It was the love of my life and all I could ask for. She was as beautiful outside gymnastics as she was in sports. ”
Durham and teammate Mary Lou Retton, known for their combination of grace, dexterity and strength, as well as their light personality, have brought gymnastics to an age marked by sudden declines in strength and rapid progress.
Durham was the last gymnast to beat Retton in full competition before the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Her place on her team was stripped of her position due to a combination of injuries and politics.
But it was her performance as the 1983 national champion that brought not only Durham to the national stage but also her coaches of her Bela and Martha Karolyi that Durham remembers most.
“People said you were the first black man; I use “black” because “African American” wasn’t a term in my day: national champion. You know I haven’t even thought about it? . “Not even. Do you know how many people must have told me? I couldn’t understand why it was so important.”
For Durham, this victory, while fiercely contested, was just a stop on the road to the Olympics. When that path was cut short just after the 1984 Olympics, she Durham took on the Karolyis coaching job in Houston before moving to Chicago, where she met Drahozal and became a gym owner, judge, and coach. Nationally.
“I have had so many former gymnasts texting me today,” Drahozal said. “They said she was a tough guy, a great coach that they loved and that she was a great role model for them. I think Dianne wants her personality to be remembered and also as a pioneer of minority gymnastics. She was one of the greatest gymnasts of her time, but she also opened the door to the great black gymnasts who followed her. ”
“We were shocked when we learned of Dianne’s death,” USA Gymnastics CEO Li Li Leung said in a statement. “As an icon and pioneer in our sport, Dianne has opened the doors to generations of gymnasts who have followed her and her legacy continues every day in gyms across the country. Our hearts go out to her friends and her family during this difficult time. ”
Durham leaves her husband and sister, father Ural Durham, niece Allison Woods and nephew Mike Woods Jr. A celebration of her life is scheduled for the end of the year in her hometown of Gary, Indiana. .