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Sports Then and Now



Babe Didrikson Zaharias: The Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century 4

Posted on June 26, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Babe Didrikson Zaharias was the most successful female athlete of her generation.

The LPGA will crown its 2011 champion later today, but it was on this date 100 years ago that one of the catalysts for the LPGA and the greatest female athlete of all-time was born.

Though there have been many great female athletes, none has ever been able to duplicate the athletic prowess or cross into the world of men’s sports with quite as much success as Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

Whether competing in basketball, baseball track and field or golf, Zaharias wasn’t just considered to be “pretty good for a girl”, she was generally recognized as being a special athlete.

While Zaharias first enjoyed success in basketball, leading her team to a 1931 AAU Championship, it was track and field where she initially gained a larger following.

In the Spring of 1932 she entered the Amateur Track and Field Championships in Evanston, Illinois as the lone team member for the Employers Casualty Insurance Company of Dallas, Texas. Competing against teams that included as many as 22 women, the “one-woman track team” dominated the competition.

Zaharias won five events (broad jump, shot-put, javelin, 80-meter hurdles and the baseball throw) and tied for first in the high jump. She earned 30 total points in the team competition to finish well in front of the second place Illinois Women’s Athletic Club, which had 22 athletes and scored 22 points.

As a result of her amazing one-woman performance, Zaharias qualified for three events at the 1932 Summer Olympics, which were held in Los Angeles. She won the Olympic Gold Medal in the 80-meter hurdles and javelin and finished second in the high jump. Read the rest of this entry →

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