Women of Valor

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Controversy at the Finish Line

Bobbie Rosenfeld, 1904 - 1969

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Historian Ron Hotchkiss Narrates Footage of the 100 Meter Race

For the Canadians, the 100 meter race was marked by disappointment. Three Toronto women—Myrtle Cook, Ethel Smith and Rosenfeld—had made it to the finals. But after two false starts disqualified Cook, Rosenfeld and Smith watched as their teammate collapsed on the sideline in tears. Tension grew after another false start disqualified a German runner. Finally the gun went off and the race was on.

With Rosenfeld and Smith starting cautious after all the confusion, Elizabeth Robinson of the United States pushed out in front. Then, as one sportswriter put it, Rosenfeld, "whose courage has never been questioned, rallied strongly and raced down the stretch probably faster than any woman ever traveled in this world." She crossed the tape so close to Robinson that the judges were uncertain who had placed first.

In the end, Robinson was awarded the gold, but coach Alexandrine Gibb wasn't alone in her opinion that, "Bobbie Rosenfeld won." She wrote, "The five judges at the finish were each picking one position. And both the judge who picked first and the judge who picked second chose Betty Robinson, of the United States. Ethel Smith was undoubtedly third. Then where was Bobbie Rosenfeld? In my opinion and that of a number of others at the finish, she either won or it was a dead heat." Unfortunately for Rosenfeld, a silver medal would have to do.

Notes: 
  1. The quote "whose courage has never been questioned" is from M.J. Rodden, "Scanning the Sport Field," Globe and Mail 1 August 1928: 10.
  2. Alexandrine Gibb’s quote from her article "Canada at the Olympics," MacLean’s Magazine 1 October 1928.
  3. For more on the 100 meter race, see Ron Hotchkiss, "The Matchless Six," The Beaver Oct.-Nov. 1993, 35-7.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Bobbie Rosenfeld - Controversy at the Finish Line." (Viewed on April 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/rosenfeld/controversy-at-finish-line>.