Dianne Durham, the primary Black lady to win a United States Gymnastics nationwide championship, died in Chicago on the age of 52 on Thursday. Her husband told the Associated Press that Durham had a “brief sickness.”
Durham was a trailblazer in American gymnastics. At solely 14 years outdated, Durham received the all-around on the 1983 nationwide championships and was the primary Black lady to take action within the group’s historical past.
Durham and Mary Lou Retton had been the primary star American pupils of Romanian-American gymnastics coaches, Bela and Martha Karolyi. Durham received the McDonald’s Worldwide Invitational in Los Angeles in 1983, nevertheless her accidents slowed her down, forcing the gymnast to overlook the 1983 world championships.
“I feel between her and Mary Lou Retton, they felt they launched extra of an influence gymnastics,” Tom Drahozal, Durham’s husband, mentioned, in line with the AP. “The door was open by Dianne.”
Black girls and ladies would go on to interrupt boundaries after Durham.grew to become the primary Black gymnast to win a person occasion on the Olympics in 1996, and grew to become the primary Black gymnast to change into the Olympics’ all-around champion in 2012. has additionally been praised for being the very best gymnast the sports activities world has ever seen since her debut in 2016.
Durham by no means mirrored on the importance of being the primary Black nationwide champion.
“Folks mentioned, you are the primary Black — I am utilizing Black as a result of African American wasn’t a time period in my period — nationwide champion. Have you learnt that did not undergo my head one time?” Durham informed ESPN final yr. “Not one time. Have you learnt how many individuals needed to inform me that? I couldn’t perceive why that was such a humongous deal.”
It took time for the pioneering gymnast to grasp the gravity of her accomplishments, particularly since Durham was shunned from the highlight.
“In my very own life and gymnastics profession I encountered discrimination and prejudice,” Durham wrote on Facebook in June, simply days after . “It did not cease me from reaching all of my objectives, however it did play a job in stopping me from reaching a few of my greatest objectives.”
“Sadly, she did not get into the Olympics due to politics,” Drahozal mentioned. “I feel she’d come to phrases with it…However she had informed me, ‘It was what it was, I can not return and redo it once more.'”
Durham continued to work in gymnastics all through her life, finally operating her personal gymnasium, Skyline Gymnastics, in Chicago, USA Gymnastics reported.
In 2017, Durham was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Area 5 gymnastics, the division of USA Gymnastics that covers elements of the Midwest.
Durham and her husband lived in Chicago till her demise.