On May 7, the inaugural Women's Right to Run 19k will be held in Seneca Falls, New York, the birthplace of women's rights (where the first women's rights convention was held in 1848 and the home of the National Women's Hall of Fame). This run celebrates the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that enfranchised women. The ratification occurred on August 26, 1920, which is now referred to as Equality Day. To honor the runners, I am profiling women athletes who changed America. Match the woman with her accomplishment:
____ 1. The first woman to run the Boston Marathon; when race officials saw that a woman was running, they tried to physically remove her from the race. She completed the marathon.
____ 2. Named the Female Athlete of the Half Century, she excelled in every sport she tried, medaled in track and field in the Olympics and helped found the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
____ 3. She won the only U.S. gold medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics - in figure skating.
____ 4. The second woman to win the Iditarod and the first person to win the Iditarod in four of five consecutive years.
____ 5. The first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal; she specialized in the high jump.
A. Alice Coachman
B. Babe Didrikson Zaharias
C. Kathrine Switzer
D. Peggy Fleming
E. Susan Butcher
Raised in the South during segregation, Alice Coachman often had to improvise her training. Initially taken under the wing of the boys' coach, Coachman was recruited to Tuskegee Institute on a scholarship, but not before she had broken high school and college records for the high jump. Unable to compete in the 1940 and 1944 Olympics which were cancelled due to World War II, Coachman set a high jump record at the 1948 Olympics and became the first African-American woman to earn a gold medal. After her retirement, Coachman became the first African American to earn an endorsement deal (Coca-Cola). Later in her life, she established the Alice Coachman Track and Field Foundation to support both younger athletes and retired Olympians. Honored by induction into nine different halls of fame, Coachman was named one of the 100 greatest Olympians of history.
Named the Female Athlete of the Half Century in 1950, Babe Didrikson Zaharias excelled in every sport she tried. Her best high school sport was basketball although she also swam and played baseball, volleyball and tennis. At the 1932 Olympics, she won three medals - two gold and one bronze in track and field. Later, she turned her attention to golf and had 35 career victories including three U.S. Opens and the British Women's Amateur. A founder of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, Zaharias has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
The host of the 2016 inaugural 19k, Kathrine Switzer, was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. When she filled out the application for the 1967 Boston Marathon, she used the name she always used - K.V. Switzer. Race organizers didn't realize a woman had entered the race until she and her running colleagues passed the press box. At that point, race organizers tried to physically remove her from the race but were unsuccessful and she completed the marathon. A strong advocate worldwide for women to run, Switzer was successful in getting the women's marathon introduced as an Olympic event - which occurred for the first time in 1984. Her clothing line and the global community she has established reflect her bib number from her first marathon - 261 Fearless. Switzer has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
Peggy Fleming began figure skating when she was nine years old. Her gold medal in the 1968 Olympics was the only gold medal received by the U.S. at those games. After her Olympic career, she had a television career, skated in many shows around the country and served as a commentator on TV. She made her battle with breast cancer public and has become a champion for health-related causes. Fleming is now in the wine-making business in California.
The second woman to win the Iditarod, Susan Butcher won the race in four of five consecutive years. Trained as a veterinarian technician, Butcher moved to Alaska so that she could race in the Iditarod and train. In her memory, the State of Alaska has established Susan Butcher Day which occurs each year on the first Saturday in March.
Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These athletic women are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. We salute their accomplishments and are proud to stand on their shoulders.
(Answers 1-C, 2-B, 3-D, 4-E, 5-A)