Track & Field: Former Cajun track star Twilet Malcolm succumbs to cancer at age 50
Bruce Brown, Special to the Advertiser, July 11, 2019
This was one race Twilet Malcolm couldn't win.
The former UL Ragin' Cajun sprint champion and long jump star lost a battle with cancer Wednesday morning at age 50 at hospice facilities in Houston.
It is the second major blow to the Cajun athletic program in a week, following last week's death of baseball coach Tony Robicheaux.
A Jamaica native, Malcolm lifted a lifeless women's track and field program to championship status in the 1990s with her talent and leadership.
She was an All-American in 1993, both indoors (6.79 55 meters) and outdoors (11.17 100) when she led the Cajun women to Sun Belt Conference titles in both arenas.
Outdoors in 1993, she won the 100 in 11.17, the 200 in 22.93, the long jump (20-10.75) and ran on winning 4x100 (48.91) and 4x400 (3:46.10) relays, a virtual repeat of a 1991 showing in the American South Conference before there was enough talent around her to result in a team crown.An Olympian in the 4x100 for her native Jamaica at the 1992 Barcelona Games, Malcolm was a force of nature.
“Twilet proved that dreams come true if you work hard,” said UL assistant coach Tommy Badon. “She came here primarily as a long jumper, but her goal was to be an All-American sprinter, and she did that.
“She was also the first track and field woman inducted into the UL Athletic Hall of Fame. Twilet was very demanding, vocal; she was not shy. She would scold and talk, telling teammates what they needed to do to be good. Mostly, she set the example.”
Keisha Rideau was one who felt that force on a daily basis.
“Twilet was very strong, both physically and mentally,” Rideau said. “She squatted more weight than some of the guys. She worked toward a PR (personal record) every time she got on the track.
“Many times fear hindered me from desiring success. However, she made me feel as though I was given a talent and that I belonged on the collegiate level and on the (winner's) podium.”
“She had the heart, soul and attitude of a champion,” Badon said. “She wanted to win. The bigger the meet, the better she was. At the conference meet, she was bound and determined to win.”
Malcolm, who was married to former UL football star Patrice Alexander, is survived by Alexander, son Shamal and daughter Jurney.
She scored a staggering 38 points at the SBC Indoors, even ran events she didn't like to further the cause.
“Twilet didn't like the 400 meters, but she ran on the 4x400 to help the team,” Badon said.
“We were very short on athletes when she came here from San Jacinto JC in Houston. But she took a chance on me and the rest is history, In 1993, we won conference indoors and outdoors, both men and women. No Sun Belt team has done that since.”
Teammates gravitated to Malcom's side at a reunion of the track program in the spring, but her visit was cut short when her condition suddenly worsened. They will remember her fierce will and determination.
“She fussed, but we knew it came from a good place,” Rideau said. “What I admire most is her strength — the strength to accept her illness and not let it defeat her.
“It did not stop her from being who she was — fearless.”
Athletic Network Footnote by Dr. Ed Dugas.
Funeral will be held Saturday, July 20 at 11 am