Madeline Manning-Mims


Manning at the 1968 Olympics
Photo Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Marina Santee and Elizabeth Lickiss look at the life of Madeline Manning-Mims. Madeline was a sporting success, despite racial prejudice and personal problems.

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Transcript


Voice 1

Hello. I’m Marina Santee.

Voice 2

And I’m Elizabeth Lickiss. Welcome to Spotlight. This programme uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Sports watchers may remember Madeline Manning-Mims. She had a wonderful win in 1968. She became the first black woman to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games. Madeline was living in a period of racism. People judged one another on their race - or the colour of their skin. Madeline’s success encouraged other young African women. Today we tell her story.

Voice 2

Imagine training for the Olympic Games! Imagine how you feel before a race! You have a nervous feeling in your stomach. You arrive at the Olympic Stadium. You see the other team members. You are the only black runner on the team. Madeline remembers,

Voice 3

‘I was the only black girl there. The rest were white. I got threatening letters. People told me that I should not be there. They said I should just let the white girls do it. I was struggling with all this. I was still young. And I was not very experienced in all this.'

Voice 1

Madeline wondered if anyone believed in her. But her faith in God made her stronger. She said,

Voice 3

‘Maybe no one else believed in me. But I knew that God did. So I decided to run for his glory’.

Voice 1

Madeline and her team mate, Doris Brown, were both in the Olympic finals. They agreed on a plan to gain them first and second place. The idea was to control the race together. Madeline would start fast, knowing others would follow. She would hold the lead position. Doris would stay behind to save her energy. Then, Madeline would slow the race down, keeping the lead. By this time the team would be tired. But Doris would still have energy. She would catch up. They would speed up to win. They would gain first and second place.

Voice 2

But Doris told her trainer their plan. And the trainer did not like it. He told her not to follow the plan. He told her to wait until Madeline got tired - and then to run past her! Why would he do this? Madeline said later that he was racist - he did not like the colour of her skin! He did not want a black woman to win the race. Doris was white.

Voice 1

The race began. Madeline did not know what the trainer had told Doris. She followed the plan and slowed down to wait for Doris. After the first part of the race she understood something was wrong. She said,

Voice 3

‘I thought to myself, “Madeline; you are on your own now.” And I won my race by 80 metres. I was so happy when I passed the finish line. I heard my mother shout, “Thank you Jesus, that’s my baby!’

Voice 1

Afterwards, Madeline asked Doris what had happened. Doris explained that she was following her trainer’s advice. Madeline was very hurt. She found it hard to forgive him. She said,

Voice 3

‘It took me years to work through the process of forgiving him. But I found that not forgiving him was hurting me - not him. I felt terrible every time I saw him or someone spoke about him. It was torturing me emotionally. And finally, I just had to let it go. I said, “Lord, in faith, I forgive him. It is not my problem. It is his. I refuse to hold onto this anymore.” And then I was surprised. The next time I saw him I did not feel anything. He was surprised too - that I spoke to him!’

Voice 2

Madeline’s next big event was the Olympic Games of 1972. She trained hard. It was not easy. She had personal problems at that time. This included a divorce from her husband. Madeline was not strong mentally or emotionally. But she worked hard to get in good physical condition. One event she would compete in was the relay.

Voice 1

Relays are different to normal races. In a relay, four people from the team work together. Each runner starts in a different position. One person runs at a time. The first person runs to the second person. He or she passes a baton, a tube shaped object. The second person takes the baton and runs to the third person. This continues until all four runners have finished the race.

Voice 2

Madeline was a good runner! But, two days before the event she damaged her leg while training. She remembers being in a lot of pain. However, she decided to run anyway! She said,

Voice 3

‘I ran the hardest day of my life. I was fighting so hard through the pain. I remember thinking - either your leg is going to tear or you are going to do this! I do not remember the last hundred metres. I remember passing the baton to the girl in front of me. But I have no idea what happened afterwards.’

Voice 1

Later, Madeline watched the race on film. And she saw that she finished the race. But she could not remember it. It was a very strange feeling.

Voice 2

A few years later, she went back to the Olympic Stadium where she ran. She describes how she went to the exact place where her memory had failed.

Voice 3

‘“I prayed Lord what happened here?” God said, “This is when I lifted you up and carried you to the finish line.” And he must have because I do not remember a thing! I think the pain was so bad I just blocked everything out. I was just running without knowing what was going on.

That was a hard year for me. I was running with anger. I was not running to glorify God. I was running to show the world that you cannot keep a good woman down! My emotions were not balanced. But that dark period is where God met me. He made my faith stronger for the coming years. I learned that God is always God. I learned that no matter what you go through - he can take you through it. He can keep your mind when you feel like you are losing it. He can help you control your emotions when they fail. And he can help you get through anything. It was quite an experience for me.’

Voice 1

Today Madeline’s story encourages people all over the world. She talks to people about what the power of God can do!

Voice 2

The writer and producer of today’s programme was Marina Santee. Sports group 2Kplus provided information for this radio programme. The voices you heard were from the the United Kingdom and the United States. Computer users can hear our programmes, read our scripts and see our word list on our website at www.radioenglish.net. This programme is called, ‘Madeline Manning-Mims.’

Voice 1

If you have comments or question about our Spotlight programmes, you can reach us by email. Our address is radio@radioenglish.net. Thank you for joining us in today’s Spotlight programme. Goodbye.

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Question:

Have you ever had to overcome something difficult to achieve your dream?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Lan Can
said on July 25, 2019

I love Madeline’s spirit and I love the way Spotlight write the storys. I can learn a lot of interesting words like “let it go”, “the dark period”... I often write them to my notebook. Thank you.

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on August 02, 2019

We all know stories about win hard difficulties and obstacles. It seems to me that humankind has a power in itself wich grows when the world become wretched. Sometimes prejudice, of any kind, is the key that starts this power.