Unbroken Hopes

Betty (Robinson) Schwartz was born in Illinois in 1911. Her life changed one day as she rushed to get on a commuter train. As fate would have it, her science teacher saw her mad dash and marveled at her speed. He was also the high school track coach, and what he saw at that moment was an extraordinary athletic talent.

The coach invited her to become a member of the track team. In her first race, at the age of 16, she finished second to the nation’s top female sprinter. On her next race, she busted the world record at 100m.

She was able to compete in the 1928 Olympics. She won a Gold Medal in the 100m even though it was only the third time she had raced in that event.

In winning the Gold Medal, she became the first woman to have achieved that status in a track event. Women were not allowed to compete until that time. She also won a silver medal in the 4x100m relay. She was the youngest athlete to win a Gold Medal in a track event.

She returned home to a cheering crowd and high school and resumed her high school education. She entered Northwestern University hoping to eventually become a track coach. She hoped to continue competing, but her running career seemed to come to an end in 1931 when she was involved in a plane crash. A bystander at the crash drove her to an undertaker believing she was dead. She was told she would never run again, but Betty had other ideas.

While she could no longer bend down to get a start in the 100m dash, she was still incredibly fast. She was a member of the 4x100m relay team that won a Gold Medal in the 1936 Olympics. This was the Berlin Olympics where Hitler wanted to show off the superiority of the Aryan race. Jesse Owens proved him wrong and became the story of the Olympics. Little attention was given to Betty’s remarkable story.

Her story has been largely forgotten until recently. She retired after the Berlin Olympics. In 1996, she ran again at the age of 85. She carried the Olympic Torch into the stadium for the Atlantic Olympics. She died two years later.

* * *

“Of course I’m going to try to run again. After spending the last eight years in preparation for an athletic career, it would be useless for me to give up without at least an attempt to run.” – Betty Robinson Schwartz

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.