Women first competed in Olympic track and field in 1928 in Amsterdam. They were limited to five events, including the 100-meter dash, 800-meter run, 4X100 meter relay, with the high jump and discus throw as field competitions.
The 1932 and 1936 Summer Olympic Games saw only minor schedule changes for the women in track and field. An event was added with the javelin throw, while the 800-meter run was subtracted with the 80-meter hurdles race taking its place.
The list below includes five women worthy of mention as great Olympians and trailblazing athetes for women:
Betty Robinson: Robinson was the first women's 100-meter gold medalist in 1928. The American, still a teenager and very inexperienced at her first Games, showed remarkable skill and maturity on the way to victory. She was involved in a plane crash that nearly took her life in 1931. After a lengthy recovery, she returned to the track and was a gold medalist again, this time as a member of the 4X100 meter relay in 1936.
Babe Didrikson: Didrikson captured a pair of golds at the 1932 Games in Los Angeles with wins in the 80-meter hurdles and the javelin throw. She also earned the silver in the high jump. Didrikson was a legendary athlete in the U.S. and was a superstar in professional golf, as well as a standout basketball and baseball player. Her overwhelming athletic accomplishments set the stage for many more women to compete in various sports from the 1950s onwards.
Helen Stephens: Stephens won the 100-meter dash at the 1936 Games in Berlin in a wind-aided world record time of 11.5 seconds. She was also a member of the victorious American 4X100 meter relay squad. She was a tremendously strong athlete who demonstrated her versatility in field events like the discus and shot put by winning a number of national titles in both events over the years.
Lillian Copeland: Copeland was an American star in numerous field events. She captured the discus throw silver in 1928 and improved to the gold in the same event four years later. Copeland was not able to show off her complete range of talents, though, in the shot put and the javelin throw since they were not women's events in 1928, and only the javelin was added to the schedule in 1932.
Tilly Fleischer: Fleischer(pictured) was a German great in field events. She took the discus bronze in 1932 and followed it up with the gold in the same event in 1936 in front of the home crowd in Berlin. As the first German gold medal winner of the Games, she was honored with an invite to Adolf Hitler's special box. Fleischer was also a world-record holder in the shot put, but again it was not a women's Olympic event in the 1930s.