Updated: Jun 29, 2021
One of the greatest athletes of all time.
By: Naya Dukkipati
"If you win through bad sportsmanship, that's no real victory" Babe Didrickson.
Basketball, golf, baseball, and track and field are all sports that were considered too difficult and strenuous for women to participate in merely 80 years ago. However, from these unfair standards, a girl with true passion and talent worked to defy them all by playing all these sports better than any man or woman: Babe Didrickson.
From an early age, Didrickson showed promise in sports. In fact, when she tried her hand at neighborhood baseball, she hit so many home runs, she was nicknamed “Babe” after the world-renowned baseball star, Babe Ruth. She continued to excel in every sport and played on the company basketball team for the Employer’s Casualty Company in Dallas: the Golden Cyclones. This team name was fitting since Didrickson was an extraordinary athlete with admirable strength.
She stopped playing basketball competitively in 1932 and moved on to track and field. After reading about the 1928 Olympics, she was determined to compete in Olympic track and field. She trained every day with her sister to achieve her dream, and her hard work paid off. “During the qualifying trials, she made the cut in five events, but women were only allowed to participate in three.” At only 21 years old, Didrickson earned a gold medal at the 1932 Olympics for the javelin throw, setting a new world record at 143 feet. The next day she won another gold medal and set a new world record (by breaking her own) in the 80-meter hurdle with a time of 11.7 seconds. She then won the silver medal after a controversial high-jump because the judges decided to disqualify her technique. Whether she won a silver or gold medal, Zaharis showed people that women are not only capable of participating in sports but also capable of excelling in them.
Despite her world-breaking records, Zaharis is best known for her golf career. She started in 1933 after the Olympics and ignored any gender discrimination. She focused on her goals knowing her true potential and went on to win 82 tournaments. She continued this career for the next 20 years and was named “Woman Athlete of the half-century” in 1950 by the Associated Press. In 1953, she was sadly diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery. However, Didrickson kept fighting. Just three months later, she continued competing and winning. Three years later, her cancer grew worse, but Didrickson had accomplished her goals and more importantly paved a way for women athletes to feel confident in achieving theirs.
Let Babe Didrickson’s resilience encourage you to always push forward and discover your abilities. Then, maybe one day you can break a world record!
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