Former TSU, Olympic coach made historic impression - WSMV News 4

Former TSU, Olympic coach made historic impression

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A coach known across the Tennessee State University campus and across the country for changing the face of college athletics has also trained dozens of young women who went on to represent the country at the Olympic Games.

Ed Temple has had quite a career. Among his many athletes was Wilma Rudolph, considered the fastest woman in the world.

"She became an American sports phenom in the 60s," Temple said. "She was a fantastic athlete and a thoroughly engaging human being."

At the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Rudolph was a three-time gold medalist, a feat that even surprised her coach.

"We weren't expecting to win a gold medal. I'd have been happy if she won a bronze medal," Temple said.

Temple, a former TSU track coach, is a familiar face around Nashville and a fixture at the Summer Games.

Over his 44 years at TSU, he mentored and trained dozens of athletes.

"It was blood, sweat and tears. Those girls worked. They worked," Temple said.

And they eventually helped change the face of the sport they loved.

"They showed that, given an opportunity, that the woman could produce - given an opportunity, given a chance. All they wanted was to show they could do it," Temple said.

Often times, it was an uphill battle. That even included training in hallways and on basketball courts.

"In summer, we'd practice at 5 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. It was so hot," Temple said.

One race Temple said he will never forget is the final relay at the Rome Games, with Rudolph running the final leg.

"When it got around to the fourth leg, they were just about in even. Lucinda (Williams) went to pass the stick and Wilma moved her hand, came back and got it the second time," Temple said. "She chewed them up the first 75 (meters), then just drifted and smiled as she crossed the finish line."

As Rudolph and her teammates, all TSU students, made their way to the podium, it was a proud moment for Temple, who was in the early days of a career that would prove both historic and inspirational.

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