UCLA's Title IX 40: Evelyn Ashford, Anita Ortega
July 17, 2012
UCLA Athletics continues its celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Title IX with a series of profiles of UCLA's Title IX 40. This group of 40 Bruin women were game-changers in the Title IX era. The next two profiles are of a pair of Hall of Famers from the late '70's - track and field's Evelyn Ashford and women's basketball's Anita Ortega.
Evelyn Ashford, Track & Field (1976-77-78)
Ashford's first Olympics came in 1976 when she was a UCLA freshman, and she finished in fifth place in the 100m. She returned to UCLA the next year to lead the Bruins to the 1977 AIAW Outdoor title, winning the 100m (11.32), 200m (23.0) and running the first leg of the winning 880y medley relay (1:39.4). In 1978 as a junior at the AIAW Outdoor, Ashford won the 200m (22.91), placed second (11.42) in the 100m and led the team to a second-place team finish. During her time at UCLA, she set school records in both the 100m (11.16) and 200m (22.62).
At the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Ashford won two gold medals, winning the 100m in an Olympic record time of 10.97 and running on the gold medal-winning U.S. 4x100m relay team with current UCLA women's track and field coach Jeanette Bolden. Ashford won two more medals at the 1988 Olympics, capturing silver in the 100m behind Florence Griffith-Joyner and another gold with the 4x100m relay. In her final Olympics in 1992, Ashford won her third consecutive 4x100m relay gold.
Ashford's all-time bests in the sprints were 10.76 (100m) and 21.83 (200m). She broke the 100m world record twice and the American record five times, and in the 200m, she set the American record three times. She was the world's No. 1-ranked 100m runner four times and was top-rated in the U.S. seven times, including four years in a row from 1981-84. In the 200m, she was once ranked No. 1 in the world (1981) and rated No. 1 in the U. S. six times, including three consecutive years (1981-83). Overall, Ashford was on 15 national teams from 1976 to 1992 and won 19 national titles, including six indoors.
She has been inducted into the UCLA Athletics (1990), USA Track & Field (1997), Women's Sports (1997) and U. S. Olympic Halls of Fame.
Anita Ortega, Basketball (1976-79)
A four-year starter, Ortega is ranked among UCLA's all-time leaders in points (1,751), scoring average (16.1), rebounds (559), assists (317) and steals (240). As a senior in 1979, she led UCLA to its second consecutive Final Four and earned All-America honors. She was a three-time, first-team all-conference performer. Following her UCLA career, Ortega went on to earn All-Pro honors in the Women's Professional Basketball League (1979-81) with the San Francisco Pioneers. In 1979, she competed in the Pan American games as a member of the Puerto Rico National team and led her squad in scoring. She later served as an assistant coach for the Bruins from 1981-83.
Ortega is currently a captain in the Los Angeles Police Department and is the first Afro-Puerto Rican to oversee an area command. Appointed to the LAPD in 1984 and prior to her appointment to the rank of captain, she worked a variety of patrol, investigative and staff assignments. Ortega remains involved in women's basketball as a Division I college basketball official.
Named one of the 15 greatest players in UCLA women's basketball history, Ortega was inducted into UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2011, she was inducted into the Western States Police and Fire Games Hall of Fame and was honored as the UCLA Latina Alumna of the Year. In 2012, she was selected by the California State Assembly as the Woman of the Year for the 46th District.
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