Black Gymnasts in History: Luci Collins


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Luci Collins with a teammate and member of her training team.

Women’s Gymnastics is one of the most popular Olympic sports. The powerful image of the young and daring athletes at their prime is mesmerizing. It has inspired countless young girls to take up the sport. The impact is even greater when a young athlete can see someone that looks like her compete at the Olympics.

Today’s gymnast, Luci Collins, made history by becoming the first Black female to make an Olympic Gymnastics Team in 1980. Although the world was not able to witness her great gymnastics at the Olympics due to the U.S. boycott, is does not take away from the incredible awards and accomplishments she achieved throughout her career. This is a gymnast and a name that set the stage for the wonderful African-American gymnasts who followed in her footsteps.

Here is an excerpt from a USA Gymnastics feature on the 1980 Olympic Team–

Without context, the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials appears to be like any other meet of its kind. The best athletes in the country came together under one roof, and at the end, U.S. Olympic Teams were introduced against a backdrop of against American flag. — Sure, making the 1980 Olympic team was an honor, a dream and a fulfilled goal, but it really wasn’t Moscow.

None of that tempers the emotions that arise when the chance to compete for an Olympic gold medal is taken away in the name of politics.

Those same questions also get to Luci Collins, who was 16 in 1980. Collins intended to continue through the Los Angeles Games, but never got there. “It was not until my career was sidelined… two years later that the full impact of the boycott really hit me. My one chance to compete on the Olympic stage had passed me by,” she said. “This particular disappointment still hurts a little deeper because it was not of my choice or actions that this happened. And I do still wonder what if?”

Luci Collins – you made history as the first Black Female to make an Olympic Gymnastics Team and we are honored to feature you in our Black Gymnasts in History Project.

Please read the entire feature here:

See a video of Luci competing at the 1980 U.S. Championships:


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2 thoughts on “Black Gymnasts in History: Luci Collins

    1. Dear Luci,

      It was our pleasure.

      I learned that Mary Wright was one of your coaches and I really enjoyed your gymnastics.

      Please stay in touch and send us any information or photos so that we can can have it for updates.

      We would love to know what you are doing these days.

      All the best,



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