Vonetta Flowers


Ahnnae Mccullough

In honor of Black History Month, one inspirational member of the Black community is former Olympian Bobsledder, Vonetta Flowers. In 2002 Flowers made history when she became the first African American from any country to win a gold medal at the Olympics. Before her success, Flowers was a sprinter and long jumper at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, being the first in her family to attend college. She qualified for the 100 meters in 1996 and the long jump in 2000 for the Summer Olympics but didn’t make the teams.

Vonetta was just 26 years old when her husband Johnny Flowers saw a flyer urging track flyers to try out for the U.S. bobsled team. Both Johnny and Vonetta gave it a try, but unfortunately, Johnny pulled a hamstring during tryouts. Vonetta did very well and later on went to an actual Bobsled track in Utah for the first time, she went to Germany for training and 18 months later won her first gold medal in 2002. Not only was Flowers the first African American to win a gold medal at the Olympics but the first to win a gold medal in the first Women’s Olympic bobsled event with her partner, Jill Bakken. In 2003 she returned with a new driver Jean Racine-Prahm, taking home a bronze medal at the World Championship in 2004. Competing in 2006 at the Winter Olympics held in Turin, Vonetta and Jean Racine finished sixth.

Vonetta soon retired from track and field after but continued to travel and compete around the world with her twin sons Jorden and Jaden Flowers and her husband Johnny Flowers. Birmingham Organizing Committee for The World Games (TWG) 2022 announced Vonetta Flowers as honorary co-chair. Participating in the opening and closing ceremonies, also representing, and promoting the message and the mission of TWG 2022. Vonetta Flowers impacted many lives and inspired many to try out bobsledding. “Seeing somebody who looked like me, who came from another sport, transferred into bobsled, and had success is what put the idea in my head that I could figure it out. I definitely wouldn’t be here without her,” Meyers Taylor said to NBCOlympics.com.