The Incredible and Unforgettable Mamie “Stix” Rallins

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The Incredible and Unforgettable Mamie “Stix” Rallins

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The Olympic Games is truly one of the world’s greatest competitions and biggest spectacle. Athletes from around the world are brought together under one roof to compete for the title of the best in the world. We remember these athletes’ years later for their incredible performances and for usually claiming the title as the best athlete in the world. Rarely do we get to hear stories from athletes, who despite not claiming the gold, silver or bronze medal, still deserve a platform of their own. Mamie Rallins is one of those athletes who deserve that platform.

This remarkable woman participated in her first Olympics at the age of 27, received a full scholarship at the age of 30 to Tennessee State University, and then made her second Olympic team at the age of 31.

In a recent telephone conversation earlier this month LIWI68 got a chance to ask her some questions regarding her track and coaching career, the 1968 Olympics, and the remarkable quilt she made for Dr. John Carlos.

Enjoy!

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What inspired you to start running track?

I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. At an early age I had an interest in running. I was a “gym rat” lets say. Since there was no track program in the school system during the 60s, at the age of 15, I joined the Mayor Daley Youth Foundation Club. I was only 4’11 when I started running…a small little thing. I was actually starving to death back then. The coach used to take me home to feed me.

Note: Residing with six brothers and her father, Mamie suffered from malnutrition as a teenager. Her mother had passed away when she was 13 so it was extremely hard growing up in a household of six siblings.

Eventually I grew to 5”6 and began running the 80m hurdles. The hurdles were 3 inches lower back then and instead of running 100m we only ran 80m. (Note: In 1972 at the Olympics, the 80m hurdles was replaced with the 100m hurdles) Initially, I wanted to run the 400m distance, but eventually I settled on the hurdles after making a bet with my coach at the time.

What was your most memorable Olympic moment?

The 1968 Olympics but not for what most people would probably think. I was 27 years old at the time which is completely out of the average age range for an athlete attending their first Olympics at that time.

The 1968 Olympics will obviously be remembered mainly for the Black Power Salute that took place on the podium, can you describe the atmosphere and remember exactly where you were at that time?

The 1968 Olympics will obviously be remembered mainly for the Black Power Salute that took place on the podium, can you describe the atmosphere and remember exactly where you were at that time?

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