Olympic Gold Medalist, World Record Holder Lee Evans Dies at Age 74

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 19, 2021

Lee Evans of the United States crosses the line to win the  Men's 4 × 400 metres Relay event at the XIX Summer Olympics on 30th October 1968 at the National Stadium  in Mexico City, Mexico.(Photo by Tony Duffy/Getty Images)
Tony Duffy/Getty Images

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Lee Evans died Wednesday at 74, USA Track and Field confirmed.

USATF @usatf

BREAKING NEWS: Olympic gold medalist, world record holder, USATF Hall of Famer and human rights activist Lee Evans died Wednesday at age 74. pic.twitter.com/rngsfNbW90

According to Elliott Almond of the Bay Area News Group, Evans' children recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for his medical expenses after he suffered a stroke. He had been hospitalized in Nigeria, and Solofo Evans described his father as "not in a good place" medically.

Evans won gold medals in the 400-meter dash and 4x400-meter relay at the 1967 Pan American Games before claiming an NCAA national championship in the 400 meters at San Jose State in 1968.

Later that summer, he collected gold in the 400 meters at the Olympics in Mexico City with a time of 43.86 seconds to break his own world record. That record stood for 20 years.

The Madera, California, native was also a member of the U.S. team that set a world record time of 2:56.16 in the 4x400-meter relay en route to a first-place finish.

In addition to his athletic achievements, USA Track and Field celebrated Evans' accomplishments outside of the sport:

"Evans was a leading member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, an organization that called attention to racial inequality and oppression in the United States and abroad. Along with 1968 Mexico City teammates and 200m medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Evans worked to inform and educate through his efforts in athletics, and on the award stand following his 400m victory he wore a black beret to symbolize solidarity with other civil rights organizations."

Evans later served as the head cross country coach and an assistant track coach at his alma mater San Jose State, as well as on the staff at Washington, in addition to coaching internationally.

USA Track and Field inducted Evans into its Hall of Fame in 1983, and he was enshrined in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1989.