Barbara Pearl Jones Slater is a retired sprinter. She was part of the 4 × 100 m relay teams that won gold medals at the 1952 and 1960 Olympics and at the 1955 and 1959 Pan American Games. At the 1952 Olympics, she became the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics, aged 15 years 123 days. She later became a member of the U.S. Paralympic Games Committee.
Jones was born on March 26, 1937. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, her mother kept her and her young brother involved in community activities. Her father was a hard worker who instilled in his children to work hard and strive for perfection.
After competing successfully at the national level, she was one of the youngest athletes to qualify for the Olympics at only 15. Jones won a gold medal in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki where she ran on a 4×100-meter relay team with Mae Faggs, Janet Moreau, and Catherine Hardy. The Americans defeated German, British, Soviet, Australian, and Dutch teams with a time of 45.9 seconds. Jones was one of the youngest athletes to win a gold medal. From that time until she was 19, Barbara Jones was a national AAU champion.
After high school, Jones enrolled in Marquette University. During her freshman year, she tried out for the 1956 Olympic games in Melbourne, certain she would be guaranteed a spot. However, Jones could not even place third. Three students from Tennessee State University beat her in the 100 and 200 meters. It was a new experience for Jones, she was just another athlete instead of the superstar athlete.
Jones worked hard as a Tigerbelle, realizing she was in a superior program. The tigerbelle training paid off. In 1957, she was AAU 100-yard dash national champion, though Margaret Matthews took this title from her the following year. In 1958, Jones was the 50-meter national AAU champion and shared a 5.7 world record with Isabel Daniels in the 50-yard dash. Jones was the first American woman ever to win a race against the Soviets, winning a 100-meter race in 1958, a feat she repeated in 1959. Over her eight-year career, Barbara Jones won 335 medals and 56 trophies.
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