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Jewish Women in the Olympics - Lillian Copeland

Copeland was an Olympic champion in the discus throw. She was born in New York to Minnie Drasnin, a Polish immigrant. After her father died, she was raised by her mother and step-father Abraham Copeland in Los Angeles, California. A four-time national champion in shot put, Copeland switched to the discus throw and set a new world record at the 1928 Olympic trials. She was the first woman to win a silver medal for the discus throw and later broke the Olympic and world records to win a gold at the 1932 Olympics. She played in the 1935 (Second) World Maccabiah games but boycotted the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. A law school graduate, Copeland joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in 1936 and worked there until her retirement in 1960.

Lillian Copeland, circa 1930s
Full image

This photo was taken during the 1930s, the decade in which all-round athlete Lillian Copeland (1904 – 1964) both won an Olympic gold medal—in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics—and was one of the many athletes to boycott the Olympic Games that were held in Berlin in 1936.

Institution: United States Library of Congress.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Women in the Olympics - Lillian Copeland." (Viewed on January 19, 2018) <>.


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