20th Century Leaders

Lucile Godbold

Credit: Columbia College

Lucile “Miss Ludy” Ellerby Godbold (1900-1981) was the first South Carolinian to participate in and win an international track meet. She was a native of Estill, S.C.

The Winthrop College graduate was a physical education major. While at Winthrop she set records in numerous events, including running track and throwing the shot put.
The Modern Olympic Games were initially organized in 1896 as the International Amateur Athletics Federation, or IAAF, which continued to exclude women from the prestigious track and field competitions until 1928. In the spring of 1922, Godbold was invited to participate in the Federation Sportive Feminine Internationale (FSFI) Games which were held in Paris. An alternative to the Olympic Games, the FSF allowed female athletes to participate. Godbold carried the team flag and also won first place in the shot put, breaking the American record. She won fourth in the 300 meter run, third in the javelin throw and third in the 1000 meter run. Godbold established a world record in the women’s 800 meter run. The U. S. team scored second place honors and she won a total of six medals, two of which were gold. As a result of the success of the FSFI, the IAAF began to open the Olympic Games to women athletes.

After her graduation from Winthrop with a degree in physical education, Godbold began her professional career at Columbia College. For the next 58 years she taught physical education and served as the women’s athletic coach at the college.

Miss Ludy received numerous honors and recognition for her success as an athlete and educator. In 1961 she became the first woman inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1971 Columbia College named its physical education center in her honor. In 1982 her hometown of Estill erected an historical marker to her as a tribute.