Teenager Set The Pace
Chicago Tribune, Sunday, December 18, 1994
By Ken O'Brien
| In 1928, Elizabeth
"Betty" Robinson's mad dash to catch the train changed her life.
The Riverdale resident was a 16-year-old student at Thornton High School in Harvey when teacher Charles B. Price saw her sprint to the train, according to Mary Thillman, local historian for the Riverdale Library.
Price asked her to demonstrate her running skills, and her speed in the 50-yard dash earned her an invitation to work out with Thornton's boys' track and field team. Two months later, Robinson successfully sought a spot on the U.S. Olympic team that competed in Amsterdam, Thillman said.
| On July 31, 1928, in just the fifth race of her
life, Robinson won a gold medal in the women's 100-meter dash. In posting a record time of
12.2 seconds, she became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in track.
Riverdale welcomed Robinson home on Aug. 28, 1928, with a parade through Dolton, Riverdale, Chicago's West Pullman and Roseland neighborhoods, ending in Riverdale Park.
In 1931, Robinson was injured in an airplane crash. Her doctors said she could never compete again, but she recovered sufficiently to earn a spot on the 1936 U.S. team as a relay runner.
|In the Olympics in Berlin, the American women took the gold
medal in the 4x100-meter relay race, with Robinson running the third leg.
Robinson, now 83, retired after the '36 Olympics, married Richard Schwartz and raised two children. In 1981, they moved to Florida and now live in Aurora, Colo.
In 1992, she returned to Riverdale for the village's centennial celebration, Thillman said. A plaque noting Robinson's accomplishments was dedicated at Riverdale Park.
Return to Betty Robinson Main Menu
Return to 1928 Olympics Page
Return to the Community Info. & Local History Main Menu
|Library Services||Community Info. & Local History|
|Cool Sites For Kids||Magazines & Newspapers|
|Reference Resources||Explore Internet Topics|
Drop us a line at
October 3, 2000
Updated: December 19, 2013