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One of USA’s most decorated track stars in the 1950s was Isabelle Frances Daniels. Born in the tiny town of Jakin in southwest Georgia, “Tweety” – a nickname that stuck as a young girl – grew up in a deeply segregated region attending all-Black schools where opportunities were few and far between. As a senior at Carver High School, she won the Georgia State Championships in both the 50-yard and 100-yard dash, earning recognition nationwide and recruitment to Tennessee State – then the most prestigious college women’s track program in the country. At the 1955 Pan American Games in Mexico City, Daniels took second place in the 60 Meters and was part of the gold-medal winning 4×100 Meter relay team.

At the 1956 U.S. Olympic Trials, Daniels won the 100-meter dash, beating a talented field that included future three-time Olympic gold medalist Wilma Rudolph. At the 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics, she placed fourth in the 100 Meters, missing the podium by one-tenth of second. Later at those Games, Daniels anchored USA's 4×100-meter relay team to a 3rd place finish and the bronze medal in an American record-breaking time of 44.9 seconds. Amazingly, all three teams (Australia, Great Britain and USA) shattered the previous world record. For Daniels and her teammates Mae Faggs, Margaret Matthews and Wilma Rudolph, it was a powerful moment for women’s sports and African American history as they became the first all-Black ladies relay team to ever compete at the Olympics.

After the 1956 Olympics, Daniels earned All-American honors all four years at Tennessee State under famous coach Ed Temple (who also coached the U.S. Olympic team). In 1957, she set a world record in the 50-yard dash. At the 1959 Pan Am Games in Chicago, she won gold in the 60 Meters, silver in the 200, and another gold medal in the 4×100-meter relay (again teaming with Rudolph). Overall, Isabelle Daniels won five AAU sprint titles outdoors and seven AAU titles indoors. Injuries prevented her from competing at the 1960 Rome Olympics where Rudolph swept gold in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay. 

With her running days behind her, Daniels settled down as a teacher and track coach at Ronald E. McNair High School in Georgia where she was eventually named 1990 National Coach of the Year. In 1996, along with her college teammates including Wilma Rudolph, she carried the Olympic torch prior to the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. Presented here is that very torch Daniels used in the relay.

Constructed of gold-plated brass, aluminum, and Georgian pecan hardwood, this important Centennial torch measures 32″ in length with a diameter varyng from 2-1/4″ at the bottom to 3-1/2" at its widest point on top. Designed by Peter Mastrogiannis, the wooden handle at center represents the connection of the flame between heaven and earth, and the torch's 22 reeds, representing every host city of the Olympic Games since 1896, are gathered by two brass bands, with the top band displaying the Atlanta Games logo and the quilt of leaves design, and the bottom band listing all Olympic cities and their dates since 1896.

The torch relay, run from April 27 to July 19, 1966, covered 26,875 km across the United States. Its journey included a trek on the Pony Express, a ride on the Union Pacific Railroad, and the first instance in which an Olympic relay torch made its way into space when it was carried aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. The memorable flame relay culminated, of course, with Muhammad Ali's magical moment lighting the Olympic cauldron. The used torch remains in great shape with some handling and storage wear.

Inducted into both the Georgia and Tennessee Sports Hall of Fames, Isabelle Daniels Holston passed away in 2017 and is survived by her husband and four children. Each item from her memorabilia collection comes directly from the family with a letter of provenance.

1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics Torch Carried in Relay by 1956 Bronze Medalist Isabelle Daniels – Family LOA
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Minimum Bid: $750
Final prices include buyers premium.: $1,199
Number Bids:3
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