Robinson was born in Riverdale, Illinois, and was a student at Thornton Township High School when she achieved national acclaim as an Olympic champion. Robinson ran her first official race on March 30, 1928, at the age of 16, an indoor meet where she finished second to Helen Filkey in the 60-yard dash. At her next race, outdoors at 100 meters, she equalled the world record, though her time was not recognized because it was deemed wind-aided.
At the Amsterdam Olympics, her third 100 m competition, Robinson reached the final and won, equalling the world record. She was the inaugural Olympic champion in the event, since athletics for women had not been on the program before, and its inclusion was in fact still heavily disputed among officials. With the American 4×100 meters relay team, Robinson added a silver medal to her record.
In 1931, Robinson was involved in a plane crash, and was severely injured. Initial reports had her being discovered unconscious in the wreckage wrongly thought was dead by her rescuer. He took her to an undertaker, where his mistake was discovered. Actually she was taken to a local infirmary, where it was determined she had suffered severe multiple injuries. It was another six months before she could get out of a wheelchair, and two years before she could walk normally again. Meanwhile, she missed the 1932 Summer Olympics in her home country.
Still unable to kneel for a normal 100 m start, Robinson was a part of the US relay team at the 1936 Summer Olympics. The US team was running behind the heavily favored Germans, but the Germans dropped the baton. Robinson took the lead and handed off the baton to Helen Stephens resulting in her second Olympic gold medal.
|Born||August 23, 1911|
Riverdale, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||May 18, 1999 (aged 87)|
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
|Height||5 ft 5 1⁄2 in (166 cm)|
|Weight||126 lb (57 kg)|
|Achievements and titles|
|Personal best(s)||60 m – 5.8 (1929)|
100 m – 12.0 (1928)
200 m – 25.5 (1931)
Gergen, Joe. (2014) First Lady of Olympic Track: The Life and Times of Betty Robinson. Northwestern University Press.
| Women's 100 m world record holder
June 2, 1928 – June 5, 1932
The 100 metres at the Summer Olympics has been contested since the first edition of the multi-sport event. The men's 100 m has been present on the Olympic athletics programme since 1896 and the women's 100 m has been held continuously since its introduction at the 1928 Games. The 100 metres is considered one of the blue ribbon events of the Olympics and is among the highest profile competitions at the games. It is the most prestigious 100 m race at elite level and is the shortest sprinting competition at the Olympics – a position it has held at every edition except for a brief period between 1900 and 1904, when a men's 60 metres was contested.The athlete who wins the 100m at the olympic games is crowned as the fastest man in the world.
The first Olympic champions were both Americans: Thomas Burke in the men's category and, 32 years later, Betty Robinson in the women's category. The Olympic records for the event are 9.63 seconds, set by Bolt in 2012, and 10.62 seconds, set by Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. The world records for the event have been equalled or broken during the Olympics on seven occasions in the men's category and on twelve occasions in the women's.
Among the competing nations, the United States has had the most success in this event, having won sixteen golds in the men's race and nine in the women's race. Usain Bolt of Jamaica has won three consecutive titles (2008–16). Four other athletes have won back-to-back titles: Wyomia Tyus (1964–68), Carl Lewis (1984–88), Gail Devers (1992–96), and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (2008–12). Merlene Ottey is the only athlete to win three medals without winning gold, with one silver and two bronze medals.Many athletes that compete in this event also compete individually in the Olympic 200 metres and with their national teams in the Olympic 4×100 metres relay. Nine men have achieved the 100 metres and 200 metres 'Double' at the same Olympic Games - Archie Hahn (1904), Ralph Craig (1912), Percy Williams (1928), Eddie Tolan (1932), Jesse Owens (1936), Bobby Morrow (1956), Valeriy Borzov (1972), Carl Lewis (1984), and Usain Bolt (2008, 2012, 2016). Four of these men were also members of the winning team in the x100 meters relay at the same games - Jesse Owens (1936), Bobby Morrow (1956), Carl Lewis (1984), and Usain Bolt (2008, 2012, 2016). Two of these men have won a fourth gold medal at the same games - Archie Hahn in the now defunct 60 metres, and both Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis in the long jump.
Seven women have achieved the 100 metres and 200 metres 'Double' at the same Olympic Games - Fanny Blankers-Koen (1948), Marjorie Jackson (1952), Betty Cuthbert (1956), Wilma Rudolph (1960), Renate Stecher (1972), Florence Griffith-Joyner (1988), and Elaine Thompson (2016). Four of these women were also members of the winning team in the 4x100 meters relay at the same games - Fanny Blankers-Koen (1948), Betty Cuthbert (1956), Wilma Rudolph (1960), and Florence Griffith-Joyner (1988). Fanny Blankers-Koen is the only one of these women to win four gold medals at the same games by winning the 80 metres hurdles in 1948.
Two of the highest profile doping scandals have involved the Olympic 100 m competition: Ben Johnson won the 1988 Olympic 100 m title in a world record time of 9.79 seconds but was later stripped of the titles after failing a drug test. Marion Jones was the 2000 women's Olympic 100 m gold medallist but had her results annulled after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs during her Olympic victory. The were also revelations of state-sponsored doping systems in communist countries of the Soviet Bloc and in present-day Russia. These controversies have affected public perceptions of drug usage among sprint athletes, as well as track and field and the Olympics in general.2nd Scripps National Spelling Bee
The 2nd National Spelling Bee was held at the National Museum in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, June 17, 1926, sponsored by the Louisville Courier-Journal. Scripps-Howard would not sponsor the Bee until 1941.
The winner was Pauline Bell, age 13, who attended a one-room schoolhouse in Clarkson, Kentucky. She correctly spelled the word cerise. Second place was taken by Betty Robinson of South Bend, Indiana, who would win the 4th bee in 1928, but spelled "cerise" as "cereaso" this time, and third went to Dorothy Casey of St. Louis.There were 25 spellers this year – 17 girls and 8 boys, a big jump from the nine spellers in the first Bee. The first prize was $1000, followed by $500 for second and $200 for third. The record number of Bee contestants was not broken until the 1941 bee.
Bell (married name Dunn) later attended Campbellsville Junior College and worked as a school teacher and social worker. She died in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2010 at age 98.4th Scripps National Spelling Bee
The 4th National Spelling Bee was held at the National Museum in Washington, D.C. on May 23, 1928, hosted by the Louisville Courier-Journal. Scripps-Howard would not sponsor the Bee until 1941.
The winner was 13-year-old eighth-grader Betty Robinson of South Bend, Indiana (who took 2nd place in the 1926 bee), correctly spelling the word knack, followed by albumen. Pauline Gray, 13, of West Salem, Ohio placed second (she spelled knack as "nack"), followed by Bessie Doig, 11, of Detroit in third, who faltered on "bacillus". Just before winning, Robinson had misspelled "campanile" as "campanele", but Gray also misspelled it, exactly the same way. The first student eliminated of the 23 contestants this year misspelled "magic" as "majic". Other words which spellers stumbled on included "occurred", "middy", "saxophone", "gist", "valet", "illusion", "aberration", "charivari", "counsellor", "clarivoyance", "clientele". Winner Robinson told the judges that "counsellor" could be spelled three ways, and correctly did so.There were 23 contestants this year, made up of 17 girls and 6 boys. The first place award was $1000, with second at $500 at third at $200. Every entrant won at least $25 in gold.Anne O'Brien (athlete)
Anne Marie Vrana O'Brien (August 22, 1911 – July 30, 2007) was an American sprinter. She represented the United States at the 1928 Summer Olympics in the 100 meters and at the 1936 Summer Olympics in the 80-meter hurdles. In 1932 she equaled the 80-meter hurdles world record, but fell at the Olympic Trials and missed the Olympics.Athletics at the 1928 Summer Olympics
At the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, 27 athletics events were contested. The competition was held on a 400-meter track and would become the standard for athletics tracks in the future. For the first time, women's events in athletics were included in the Olympic Games program. There was a total of 706 participants from 40 countries competing.Athletics at the 1928 Summer Olympics – Women's 100 metres
The women's 100 metres event at the 1928 Olympic Games took place between July 30 & July 31.Athletics at the 1928 Summer Olympics – Women's 4 × 100 metres relay
The women's 4 × 100 metres relay event at the 1928 Olympic Games took place between August 4 & August 5.Athletics at the 1936 Summer Olympics – Women's 4 × 100 metres relay
The women's 4 × 100 metres relay event at the 1936 Olympic Games took place on August 8 and August 9. The American team won with a time of 46.9 s after the German team, which had been in the lead, dropped the baton on the final leg.Bob Kelley (athlete)
Bob Kelley (July 17, 1897 – May 24, 1965) was an American athlete. He competed in the men's triple jump at the 1928 Summer Olympics.Dee Boeckmann
Delores "Dee" Boeckmann (November 9, 1906 – April 25, 1989) was an American middle-distance runner. She competed in the women's 800 metres at the 1928 Summer Olympics. Apart from competing, Boeckmann was the first woman to coach the United States national track and field team during the 1936 Summer Olympics. She was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1976.Elta Cartwright
Elta Cartwright (December 21, 1907 – November 29, 2001) was an American sprinter. She competed in the women's 100 metres at the 1928 Summer Olympics.Frank Wykoff
Frank Clifford Wykoff (October 29, 1909 – January 1, 1980) was an American athlete, triple gold medal winner in 4 × 100 m relay at the Olympic Games.Hermon Phillips
Hermon Edgar Phillips (August 2, 1903 – February 16, 1986) was an American sprinter. He competed in the men's 400 metres at the 1928 Summer Olympics.Jessie Cross
Jessie Cross (April 14, 1909 – March 29, 1986) was an American athlete who competed mainly in the 100 metres.She competed for the United States in the 1928 Summer Olympics held in Amsterdam, Netherlands in the 4 x 100 metres where she won the Silver medal with her team mates Mary Washburn, Loretta McNeil and Betty Robinson.Kathlyn Kelley
Kathlyn Kelley Owens (born August 30, 1919) is an American athlete who competed at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. At the women's high jump competition she placed a joint 9th after making 1.50m, but failing to clear 1.55m. Born in Seneca, South Carolina, she was never on the track team at high school, but was coached by school principal Julian Davis, who encouraged her to try out for the Olympics and found track coaches from Clemson University to work with her. At the 1936 United States Women's Olympic Trials she tied for third place, which led to a jump-off against Ida Myers that left Kelly with a bronze medal from the event and a spot on the national Olympic team. It was the last women's jump-off at an American Olympic trial until 2000. Despite having made the team, however, she needed to raise $500 to fund her trip, which she found difficult owing to the Great Depression. Davis, however, called upon South Carolina state senator Harry I. Hughes to convince the legislature, successfully, to pay for her journey. Prior to leaving for the Germany she dined with the 1932 champion Jean Shiley and, during the Olympics, she roomed with gold medalists Helen Stephens and Betty Robinson. She planned to train for the 1940 Summer Olympics, and even received a track scholarship to Greenville Women's College (which later became a part of Furman University), but was forced to leave the school after she was married in December 1938, per college policy. She then took up women's basketball, which she played until the birth of her first daughter in 1942, and eventually settled with a career as a beautician.Lee Bartlett
Lee Marion Bartlett (March 30, 1907 – October 31, 1972) was an American javelin thrower. He competed at the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics and placed 16th, 5th and 12th, respectively.Loretta McNeil
Loretta T. McNeil (January 10, 1907 – February 24, 1988) was an American athlete who competed mainly in the 100 metres.She competed for the United States in the 1928 Summer Olympics held in Amsterdam, Netherlands in the 4 x 100 meters where she won the silver medal with her teammates Mary Washburn, Jessie Cross and Betty Robinson.Mary Washburn
Mary T. Washburn (August 4, 1907 - February 2, 1994) was an American athlete who competed mainly in the sprints.She attended DePauw University, graduating in 1928. She also graduated from NYU in 1929.She competed for the United States in the 1928 Summer Olympics held in Amsterdam, Netherlands in the 4 x 100 metres where she won the Silver medal with her team mates Jessie Cross, Loretta McNeil and Betty Robinson.United States at the 1928 Summer Olympics
The United States competed at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, Netherlands. 280 competitors, 236 men and 44 women, took part in 96 events in 15 sports.