Telfair County is blessed with many great athletes. Many have gone on to participate in colleges. But did you know that two of Telfair County’s finest athletes competed in and won medals in the Olympic Games?
Martha Bell Hudson (Pennyman) was born in Eastman, Georgia, but attended school in Telfair County. In high school she was coached by her principal, Robert F. Jackson. It was there that she realized her athletic potential as a track and field athlete. Martha Bell received a scholarship to Tennessee State University where she excelled in track and field, competing mainly in the 100 meter event.
Hudson competed for the United States at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy, where she won the gold medal in the 4 X 100 meter relay with her teammates Lucinda Williams, Barbara Jones and Wilma Rudolph. She ran the first leg of the 400-meter relay against competitors who were all at least six inches taller than she.
Another Olympian hailed from Telfair County. Jane
Kimberley "Kim" Batten was born in McRae, but soon moved to
Rochester, New York, where she began her track career. She graduated from
Florida State University in 1991. Batten’s finest year came in 1995, when she
won Gold in the World Athletics Championships, breaking the World Record for
the 400 meter hurdles in a time of 52.61 seconds.
Batten brought attention to the local area and the State of Georgia, when, in 1996, she won the silver medal in the 400 meter hurdles during the 1996 summer Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Georgia.
Telfair County is home to another successful Athlete — professional basketball player Wayne Cooper. Artis Wayne Cooper was born in Milan. He played his high school basketball at Telfair County High School from 1968 to 1972.
Cooper was selected by the Golden State Warriors in the 2nd round of the 1978 NBA Draft. A 6’ 10” forward-center from the University of New Orleans, Cooper played in 14 NBA seasons from 1978 to 1992. He played for the Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets
In his NBA career, Cooper played in 984 games and scored a total of 7,777 points. His best season as a professional came during the 1985-86 NBA season as a member of the Nuggets, appearing in 78 games and averaging 13.1 points per game.
Cooper was named to the
University of New Orleans Hall of Fame in 1988 and to the Louisiana Association
of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1992. He was also selected, in 1995, to
the Sun Belt Conference's All-Time Men's Basketball Team which celebrated the
first 30 years of the conference
Retiring after the 1992 season, Cooper spent two years in Portland's front office before joining the Sacramento Kings in July 1994 as Director of Basketball Services and Assistant Coach. He spent two seasons in that position. In July 1996, Cooper was promoted to Sacramento's Vice President of Basketball Operations, a position he held until June 2013.