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Benita Fitzgerald Mosley

Olympian and marketing executive Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, a native of Dale City, Virginia, graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1984 with her degree in industrial engineering; she won a gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles in the Olympic Games the same year. Mosley was an athlete on the United States Olympic Teams of 1980 and 1984, and an alternate for the 1988 team; during her athletic career, she was the second American, and the only African American woman at that time to have won an Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles. Mosley went on to become a fifteen-time All-American; an eight-time national champion; and a gold medalist in the 1983 Pan American Games.

In 1985, Mosley began an engineering career as a computer software and hardware systems developer for defense contractors. After six years in this field, Mosley switched her career to sports marketing and administration, becoming a regional director for Special Olympics International in Washington, D.C. From 1993 to 1995, Mosley served as program director for the marketing division of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. In 1995, Mosley began working for the United States Olympic Committee as the director of the ARCO Olympic Training Center in San Diego; from 1997 until 2000, she served as the USOC's director of Olympic training centers. In March 2001, Mosley was appointed president of Women in Cable and Telecommunications, and Cablefax ranked her fiftieth on its annual list of the 100 most influential executives in the industry.

Mosley was inducted into both the Virginia High School Hall of Fame, and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame; she was named Sportswoman of the Century by The Potomac News and ranked twelfth on a list of the Top 50 Sports Figures of the Century from Virginia by Sports Illustrated. Track and Field News named Mosley Hurdler of the Decade for the 1980s, and in 1996 the United States Sports Academy named her its Distinguished Service Award winner. Additionally, in 1996, Mosley was one of the eight U.S. Olympians chosen to carry the Olympic Flag into the stadium during the Atlanta Olympic Games opening ceremony.

Mosely married Ron Mosley, with whom she had a son, Isaiah.

Accession Number

A2003.012

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/22/2003

Last Name

Mosley

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Fitzgerald

Organizations
Schools

University of Tennesee

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Benita

Birth City, State, Country

Dale City

HM ID

MOS02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/6/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Cobbler (Apple)

Short Description

Foundation chief executive, track and field athlete, and nonprofit executive Benita Fitzgerald Mosley (1961 - ) was an award-winning hurdler in the 1980s, winning two Olympic gold metals, in addition to a number of other prestigious awards. After the end of her career in hurdling, Mosley went on to have a successful career in sports marketing and administration.

Employment

Special Olympics International

Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games

United States Olympic Committee

Women in Cable and Telecommunications

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76333">Tape: 1 Slating of Benita Mosley's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76334">Tape: 1 Benita Mosley lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76335">Tape: 1 Benita Mosley describes her family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76336">Tape: 1 Benita Mosley describes her father, pt.1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76337">Tape: 1 Benita Mosley describes her father, pt.2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76338">Tape: 1 Benita Mosley describes her mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76339">Tape: 1 Benita Mosley talks about her mother's career as a teacher in the 1960s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76340">Tape: 1 Benita Mosley describes the sights, sounds, and smells of Dale City, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76341">Tape: 1 Benita Mosley talks about her family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76342">Tape: 2 Benita Mosley remembers being teased by other children as a girl</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76343">Tape: 2 Benita Mosley recalls her family's discipline</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76344">Tape: 2 Benita Mosley describes her childhood personality and activities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76345">Tape: 2 Benita Mosley talks about becoming interested in track</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76346">Tape: 2 Benita Mosley remembers her activities at Mills E. Godwin Middle School in Manassas, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76347">Tape: 2 Benita Mosley describes attending Gar-Field High School in Dale City, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76348">Tape: 2 Benita Mosley recalls her high school track competitions</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76349">Tape: 2 Benita Mosley talks about not playing basketball in high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76350">Tape: 2 Benita Mosley talks about Olympian Paula Girven</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76351">Tape: 2 Benita Mosley recalls winning the Track Junior National Championship in 1978</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76352">Tape: 3 Benita Mosley describes competing in Russia in 1978</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76353">Tape: 3 Benita Mosley talks about becoming an Olympic contender during her senior year of high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76354">Tape: 3 Benita Mosley explains how she chose to attend the University of Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76355">Tape: 3 Benita Mosley talks about women's athletics at the University of Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76356">Tape: 3 Benita Mosley describes academics at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76357">Tape: 3 Benita Mosley talks about the importance of having a well-rounded life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76358">Tape: 3 Benita Mosley talks about pressure and overtraining in women's athletics</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76359">Tape: 3 Benita Mosley talks about making the Olympic team in 1980</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76360">Tape: 4 Benita Mosley talks about her experience on the 1980 Olympic team</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76361">Tape: 4 Benita Mosley talks about the race of female Olympic track athletes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76362">Tape: 4 Benita Mosley comments on the impact of international politics on track teams</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76363">Tape: 4 Benita Mosley describes her athletic development from 1980 to 1983</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76364">Tape: 4 Benita Mosley describes the context of the 1984 Olympic games</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76365">Tape: 4 Benita Mosley describes winning the 1984 Olympic gold medal</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76366">Tape: 4 Benita Mosley talks about how athletics has built her self-confidence</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76367">Tape: 4 Benita Mosley talks about her career as an engineer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76368">Tape: 4 Benita Mosley describes her injuries in the mid-1980s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76369">Tape: 4 Benita Mosley describes the 1988 Olympic Trials</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76370">Tape: 5 Benita Mosley talks about her post-Olympics career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76371">Tape: 5 Benita Mosley talks about becoming the President of Woman in Cable and Telecommunications</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76372">Tape: 5 Benita Mosley describes her hopes and concerns for the black community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76373">Tape: 5 Benita Mosley talks about her future plans</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76374">Tape: 5 Benita Mosley reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76375">Tape: 5 Benita Mosley gives advice to young female athletes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76376">Tape: 5 Benita Mosley talks about her parents' pride in her career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/76377">Tape: 5 Benita Mosley describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

8$6

DATitle
Benita Mosley talks about making the Olympic team in 1980
Benita Mosley describes winning the 1984 Olympic gold medal
Transcript
Tell me about the Olympic, making the Olympic team in 1980, when you were still in University of Tennessee [Knoxville, Tennessee]--(simultaneous)$$Um-hum.$$You're selected for the Olympic team, how you feel about that and how did you find out about that?$$Well, I was at Tennessee and by then, like I said, I was kind of in that whole mode of, you know, looking at my rankings and I was counted top five in the country, at that time. And looking, you know, to try to make the Olympic team, I knew I was a top contender and throughout that spring and all the invitational meets and other competitions, I was doing really, really well, and we get to the Olympic trials, they were in Eugene, Oregon. And we walked into the trials, unfortunately knowing that, you know, President Carter had determined that the U.S. team wasn't going to be able to compete in Moscow [Russia], but, it was still an Olympic trials, nonetheless, the Olympic team berth was on the line and it was an Olympic team in all shape and formed, except we didn't actually compete in the Olympics. And so the pressure was on, I never felt pressure like that before to know it was kind of a do or die race. It's always another race when you're competing and to know that forever and ever, if I didn't do well there, I wouldn't make the Olympic team, if I did, all these other opportunities would present themselves. So, feeling that pressure was something new for me. It's always pressure in a race, but that kind of extra pressure was new and I ran the race, and I got second place. I think one of my other top competitors hit a hurdle really badly and ended up not making the Olympic team. But Stephanie Hightower was first and I was second and Candy Young was third and we were the, you know, hurdlers on the Olympic team that year. And it was very celebratory, we came to [Washington] DC and had this wonderful tour and meal at the White House and beautiful concert at the Kennedy Center and parade and Congressional Medals and all kinds of great honors. But nothing could take the place of being in Moscow at those opening ceremonies and competing at eighteen years old in my first Olympic games. It would've been great. I wasn't a contender for a medal, but it would've been a great experience, I think, for me to have gone and competed. And I really still regret that decision that the President [Jimmy Carter] made to use sport as leverage in what was then the Cold War.$And so in winning my Gold Medal and, you know, becoming the first African American to do that and following in Babe Didrikson's footsteps in the same stadium at the Olympics. She won in '32 [1932], the 80-yard hurdles, I think it was, at that time. Or 80 meters, I'm not sure. In '52 [1952] in Los Angeles at the Olympics and I won in '84 [1984], Los Angeles, and it was a lot of history, how I just walking into the stadium, and we had our Olympic trials there so I was used to the stadium. But nowhere close to that many people were there at the Olympic trials, maybe 25, 30,000 people and here you had 85, 90,000 people in the Coliseum. And for each race, I mean, from the quarter finals, early in the morning to the finals, two days--a day later, you know, in the evening. There they were, screaming, yelling USA, USA and it was the most gratifying feeling. You know, to be there on your home soil with your U.S. uniform on, you know, representing your country and yourself and all the kind of the dreams that you've had all those years kind of coming into fruition, all at one time. I remember walking through the tunnel--the quarter finals in the he--heats in the quarter finals were in one day and then the semi-finals and the finals were another there like an hour, two hours apart, each of those. And so, I had won all my heats and fastest time going into this and fastest time going into that. So I'm feeling like I'm building this momentum and go into--walk through the tunnel under the stadium out to the track and you get to this light and you get to the crowd and the noise and it's just an amazing feeling to be in that kind of arena and that kind of situation. So I win my semi-final race and everybody is just screaming and yelling and I thought, wow, this feels great, I wanna win the race, I wanna feel this again. And be able to take my victory lap and everything. So I go back through the tunnel, and get ready and get psyched up for my race. And really feeling confident and really feeling, you know, almost like I;d had that premonition, you know. Because I felt what it felt like to win already. And so going back to the stadium and getting in the blocs and just really focus on--it's a guy named Ralph Boston, he's a Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist it's in the long jump, back in the '60s [1960] and had always told me, he said when you get in the blocs, just make them disappear, you know. Cause I used to have horrible starts. So he just say think about making them disappear. So that's really all that I was thinking about, make them disappear. Came out of the blocs and just go, and I did that first hurdle, second hurdle, third hurdle, fourth hurdle, fifth hurdle. All the way through the race until about the sixth, seventh or eighth hurdle, I realize there's still another competitor that I hadn't made disappear yet (laughing) and named Shirley Strong, and from Great Britain. And she was, I think, probably touching down just before I was, and I found the gear somewhere, about the eighth hurdle and passed her and beat her by 400th of a second. So it's a slim margin, but enough to know I won, but it was really nice to have that kind of control over your body. To be running that fast to kind of see midstream, that, you know, something else happening being to find the gear and run and win the race. It's a powerful feeling, it's very empowering and then first to cross the finish line. I wasn't quite sure it's close enough but you just hope and pray, you don't--aren't celebrating too soon. And they say, you know you won, you won and I started my victory lap and someone thrust a flag into my hand. I go embrace my parents and my sister, my aunt and uncle and kept on running around the track. It was just really a blur, you know, at that point. You just hear all this, people screaming and yelling your name, and your name's on the marquee and you just, you know. It's a really great feeling.$$I can imagine from watching, I guess but to be there, you know, in Los Angeles (unclear)$$Right.$$Powerful experience.$$It was very powerful. And one that you realize what you as one individual can do. I still get fan mail from people, you know, just having watched that race, and wanting my autograph, and you know, keep it in their record books. And it's something that no one can ever take away from you and it gives you the feeling that, you know what, there was a day when I didn't know how to hurdle and, you know, ten years later, I'm winning an Olympic Gold Medal. I can do anything I that I set my mind to, when I get passionate enough about it, you know, work hard enough at and just apply, apply yourself to. And I feel that confidence in myself throughout. And I've been able to take risks in my career as a result, I think. Do different things, and take on different challenges, with a lot of encouragement from my family and friends. But that confidence comes from being successful on the track.