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SoCal Legends: Jeanette Bolden
By Amanda Scurlock
Published July 15, 2021

Jeanette Bolden is the first coach in Olympic history to have won a medal as an Olympic athlete (UCLA Athletics photo)

Jeanette Bolden is a well-decorated Track and Field athlete and coach. The Olympian and UCLA star helped bring out the talents of the runners, allowing them to reach national and international stages. Bolden is also the third-generation owner of the 27th Street Bakery in Los Angeles.

In 2010, Bolden was inducted into the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame. UCLA recently announced that Bolden is a member of their 2021 Hall of Fame class.

In her youth, Bolden had a clubbed foot and had a serious asthmatic condition. Living at a program that treats youth with similar asthmatic conditions helped her find a way to still be active despite her illness.

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A Compton native, Bolden attended Centennial High School in Compton. There, she won a state title for the 100m dash. During the Liberty Bell Games in 1980, Bolden came in second in the 100m; she also finished second in the same event during the TAC Meet. She took her talents to UCLA after graduation and helped make the women’s track and field squad a contending group. She attended UCLA from 1981-1983.

In 1982, Bolden helped the Bruins win their first women’s track and field outdoor title. During the NCAA meet, she came in second in the 100m. Bolden used to be the world record holder in the 60-yard dash after completing with a 6.60s time. To this day, she holds the collegiate indoor record in the 50m with a 6.13s time.

In 1983, Bolden graduated from UCLA with a degree in sociology. She qualified for Team USA Track and Field for the 1980 Moscow Olympics but did not compete because USA boycotted that Olympiad. When the Olympics came to Los Angeles in 1984, Bolden helped the Team USA women’s 4x400m relay team win a gold medal.

After suffering a ruptured Achilles in the 1988 Olympic Trials, Bolden returned to UCLA as an assistant coach. She was named head coach of the women’s team in 1994. With her at the helm, the Bruins was one of the highest-ranking track programs at that time. In 1998, Bolden became the USOC Track and Field Developmental Coach of the Year.

UCLA women’s track and field won eight-consecutive Pac-10 titles with Bolden, she ultimately won 10 during her time with the Bruins. Bolden was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year 10 times. She was also named United States Track Coaches Association (USTCA) West Region Coach of the Year nine times.

Jeanette Bolden (left) poses with track and field icon Jackie Joyner-Kersee (right) at the 2012 RJ/JJK Invitational, Drake Stadium, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.
120414_TRK_0429.NEF
April 14th, 2012
Copyright Don Liebig/ASUCLA

She coached over 40 athletes that became Pac-10 individual champions. In 2000 and 2001, Bolden led the team to the NCAA Indoor Team Championships. In 2004, she became the National USTCA, Regional USTCA and Pac-10 Collegiate Outdoor Coach of the Year. Bolden also won the C. Vivian Stringer Award that year.

Bolden coached over 50 All-Americans and six NCAA champions. In 2006, she was the head coach of the World Cup in Greece. That same year, Bolden was hired as head coach of Team USA women’s Track and Field for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. She helped the Team USA women earn 23 medals.

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Bolden became the first head coach in Olympics history to have an Olympics medal as an athlete.

In 2013, Bolden took her talents to the University of Central Florida (UCF) and remained a coach there until 2016. In her first two years with UCF, she led 11 athletes to the NCAA championships.

Bolden is also executive director of the Jeanette Bolden Asthma and Allergy Track Clinic and is on the board of directors for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.

Categories: History (Sports) | News (Sports) | Sports
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