Sunday, February 12, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 19 Rome, A Turning Point in Women's Track and Field in the US

It would be unfair to pass lightly over the accomplishments of the U.S. Women’s Track and Field Team in Rome, and so I’m writing this brief account.

Before 1960, little if any recognition was given to the efforts of a few women and their coaches who trained under much less than optimum conditions anywhere, compared to men’s collegiate programs throughout the US and women’s track and field in Europe. The outstanding results of the ladies of the Tennessee State Tigerbelles and Coach Ed Temple became a turning point in the attention given to the women’s side of the sport. The gold medals of Wilma Rudolph and the 4x100 team were arguably the most memorable to the American public in general, ie. those not truly familiar with our sport. It was the beginning of the 60’s , the Civil Rights era, and women’s rights. These two weeks in Rome became the catalyst for the growth of age group track and field where there had been no sport for girls in the public school systems of America. It can be argued that the swing of the pendulum has now gone the other way to where women’s track is becoming favored over men’s track in many universities where gender equity requires a balance of numbers in all collegiate sports played at any institution. I’m not going to argue for or against the idea, just stating what appears to be a fact.
Martha hudson, lucinda Williams, Wilma Rudolph, Barbara Jones arriving in London for the USA v. Commonwealth Meet
Ed Temple
Wilma Rudolph winning the 200 meters over Jutta Heine

At the Olympic Trials at Abeline TX, the Tigerbelles showed their strength in the sprints taking the first four places in the 100 meters, and first two places at 200 meters

100
Wilma Rudolph 11.5AR
Barbara Jones 11.6
Martha Hudson 11.7
Lucinda Williams 11.8

200
Wilma Rudolph 23.9
Lucinda Williams 24.3
Ernestine Pollards 24.5
Lacy O'Neal 24.9

800
Pat Daniels 2:15.6 AR only qualifier
Rosie Lovelace 2:15.7 NQ
Louise Mead 2:19.1 NQ
Judy Shapiro 2:19.5 NQ

HJ
Naomi Rugers 5’ 4”
Barbara Brown 5’ 2 ¾”
Jean Gartner 5’ 2 ¾”

Long Jump
Willye White 20' 4 1/2"
Sandra Smith 18' 8"
Anna Smith 18' 6"

Discus
Earlene Brown 176’ 10”
Olga Fikotova Connolly 172’ 4 ½”
Pamella Kurrell 158’ 8”


Shot Put
Earlene Brown 50' 10 1/4"
Sharon Sheppard 45' 10"
Cecilia Rutledge 43' 5"

Javelin
Karen Anderson 163’ 5 ½” AR only qualifier
Margaret Scholler 154’ 6 ½” NQ
Karen Mendyka 143’ 8” NQ
Earlene Brown on the podium in Rome

At the Games we all remember Wilma Rudolph’s triumphs in the 100 and 200 meters and her anchor of the 4x100. The one we least remember is Earlene Brown winning the bronze medal in the Shot Put.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On the eve of the 2012 London Olympic Games Australian Roller Game fans remember Earlene Brown. Earlene Brown arrived back in Australia in Sep 1966 after being part of the 1956/60 USA Olympic Team in Melbourne and Rome.
Earlene sk8ed the series with the Hawaiian Warriors and returned to the USA after the series.
Earlene returned to Australia in January 1967 and sk8ed a series with the New York Bombers.
Rest In Peace Earlene Brown.