Rosenfeld, Fanny "Bobbie"
track and field
Considered by many to be Canada's greatest female athlete of the 20th Century, Rosenfeld competed at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, the first to include women's track and field. Her accomplishments in Amsterdam are legendary; she registered 13 of Canada's 26 points in the track and field competition, winning more points for her country than any other athlete at the Games, male or female. Rosenfeld competed in three events and won two medals, including the gold, as a member of Canada's 4x100-meter relay team; they set the world record of 48.8 in the final.
Rosenfeld won her second medal in the 100-meter sprint, finishing second in the final (12.3) to capture the silver. In the 100-meter final, there were three false starts before the race began. Rosenfeld started cautiously, not wanting another false start, but rallied at the finish. She crossed the tape close to Elizabeth Robinson of the United States and initially the judges were uncertain who finished first. They eventually awarded Robinson the gold, but many believed that Rosenfeld had either tied or won the race.
Rosenfeld's final event was the 800-meter, the longest track event for women at the Amsterdam Games. While she did not medal, she demonstrated her importance to Canada's team more in that race than in any other. Bobbie entered the competition as encouragement to her teammate Jean Thompson. During the race, Thompson was bumped by one of the other runners and fell back into the pack. Rosenfeld moved to Thompson's side and helped her recover with words of support; Thompson eventually won the race while Bobbie finished fifth. Many believe she could have medaled, and even won the race, had she not helped her teammate.
Despite Rosenfeld's, and other women's, accomplishments at the 1928 Olympics, many men were still unwilling to give female athletes their due. Following the 800-meter final, three of the eight competitors collapsed from exhaustion, shocking many people. Consequently, that event was eliminated from the Olympic program until 1960 (the longest race until then was 400-meters).
One of the 20th Century's greatest female athletes, She received her nickname after coming home one day with her long hair cut off or "bobbed," so it would not bother her in sports. A great all-around athlete, Bobbie won the Toronto Ladies Grass Court Tennis Championship in 1924. Rosenfeld also played on basketball, hockey, and softball championship teams, but earned her greatest fame as a track athlete. In September 1925, Fanny equaled the world record of 11.0 seconds in the 100-yard dash.
That same year, she won the discus, 220-yard dash, low hurdles, and long jump, and placed second in the 100-yard dash and javelin at the Ontario Ladies Track and Field Championships. Although Bobbie was her club's lone entrant, she singlehandedly scored enough points to win the team title! During the 1920s, Rosenfeld held Canadian records in the standing long jump, running long jump, shot put, javelin, and discus. An author summed up Rosenfeld's athleticism by writing: "The most efficient way to summarize Bobbie Rosenfeld's career...is to say that she was not good at swimming."
She retired from competition in 1932 and five years later, began writing a column for the 'Toronto Globe and Mail' called "Feminine Sports Reel," which focused on women in sports in Toronto. In 1949, Rosenfeld was elected to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, and the following year, was named Canada's Female Athlete of the Half-Century. Following her death, Canada's Sporting Heroes wrote: "From her first emergence as an athletic marvel, she was described in the press as 'refreshing and irreverent.' From the start, Bobbie Rosenfeld balanced intense competitive fire with an instinctive comic sense." In 1996, Fanny was featured in a set of stamps issued by the Canadian Postal Service commemorating the Centennial Olympic Games. Rosenfeld is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. Dec. 28, 1903 - d. Dec. 1969
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
PHOTOGRAPHS AND OTHER IMAGES
Great Jews in Sports by Robert Slater (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)
Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
The Olympic Games: Athens 1896-Sydney 2000, (New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1999)