Quick Facts About Betty Robinson

August 23, 1911

July 31, 1928 - Olympics in Amsterdam
Captured the Gold Medal in the 100-meter dash in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam at the age of 16.

Became the first woman to carry off an Olympic Gold Medal, (the first time women had been allowed to take part in the Olympics.

Betty's victory in Amsterdam came in only her fourth competitive event; and her time for the 100 meters of 12.2 seconds compared with G. Devers's 10.94 in the Olympics of 1996; and Florence Griffith Joyner's 10.49 in 1988.

On her return to New York, Betty was given a ticker-tape parade down Broadway, and in Chicago the same welcome down State Street.  Her school awarded her a silver cup, and her home town banded together to buy her a diamond watch.

She retired from competition shortly after the Berlin Games, having held several world records from 60 to 100 yards.  She became active as a coach.

1931 Plane Crash
In 1931, Betty was in a biplane being flown by her cousin when it crashed in Chicago. After being dragged from the wreckage with a severe concussion, a crushed arm and a broken leg, Betty Robinson was given a slim chance of survival, let alone of walking again.  She was unconscious for seven weeks.   Pins were inserted into her leg, which after months encased in a hip-to-heel cast ended up an inch shorter than the other.  Betty said "If I had not been in such good physical condition, I would not have lived through it."

1936 Olympics in Berlin
Although Betty was unable to bend her knee for a crouching start in the 100 meters (an injury due to the 1931 airplane crash), she was competitive enough to be included to run the third leg on the American 4 x 100 meters relay team. The Americans captured the Olympic Gold when the Germans, who were favored to win, fumbled a hand-over in the last leg of the race.
Within weeks, she had finished second to the American 100 meters record holder, Helen Filkey.
At her second public appearance, the Chicago are Olympic trials, she equaled the world record of 12.0 seconds.  And at her next competition, the US Olympic trials, she came in second, winning herself a place in the national sprint team for the 100 meters and the 4 x 100 relay.
Soon afterwards, Betty and her team-mates were on the liner for Europe.  They kept in condition by running on a linoleum track laid down on the liner's upper deck.

December 1, 1939
Married Richard Schwartz of Hyde Park, IL, who owned an upholstery firm; they had a son and a daughter.

Betty is inducted into the Helms Hall of Fame

October 15, 1971
Betty is inducted into the Roseland-Pullman Area Sports Hall of Fame

May 18, 1999 at the age of 87.

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October 3, 2000
Updated: December 19, 2013

Information provided by the Riverdale Historical Society