An oddly touching compendium of the female Olympic athletes of 1932, a year the author considers ""pivotal"" for female...


THEIR DAY IN THE SUN: Women of the 1932 Olympics

An oddly touching compendium of the female Olympic athletes of 1932, a year the author considers ""pivotal"" for female athletes. In 1931, the International Olympic Committee considered eliminating women's events. But the 1932 Los Angeles venue, and the participation of such star athletes as Babe Didrikson, helped establish the reputation of women's sports. Historian Pieroth here collects the stories of the 1932 female Olympians from the Olympic trials to the Los Angeles Summer Games. Some of their stories are vivid: Didrikson's formidable skill and her controversial victory in the 80-meter hurdles--as she crossed the tape, Babe held up her arms as a sign of victory, though observers and a still photo show her in a dead heat with teammate Evelyne Hall. Ever the favorite, Babe took the gold. Swimmer Helene Madison, confident of victory in the 100-meter freestyle race, casually strolled onto the pool deck just as the race was about to begin. The embarrassed swimmer won. Other stories are sadder: Black sprinters Tidye Pickett and Louise Stokes were not allowed to run in the 4 X 100 meter relay. Perhaps most interesting is the gender-based bias of the 1932 Olympic rules. American divers, lined up at the board, were sent back to the dressing room to don less revealing suits. In the high jump, women were expected to daintily hop over the bar in a sitting-up position. Didrikson, though the highest jumper, was fouled out of her gold when she jumped over the bar head first, as the men did. And it frequently took judges more than an hour to decide who had won a given running event and what the time was, since watches were inaccurate. Though the book is somewhat disorganized, and women's sports have become much more competitive in the last 64 years, Pieroth's admiration for these athletes is infectious, and their determination remains impressive.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996


Page Count: 208

Publisher: Univ. of Washington

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996