Ethel CATHERWOOD

Canada CAN

Athletics

  • Olympic Medals
    1 G
  • Games participations
    1
  • First Olympic Games
    Amsterdam 1928
  • Year of Birth
    1910
Olympic Results

Biography

Ethel CATHERWOOD

Ethel Catherwood became the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic gold medal when she won the high jump at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Catherwood first became known in Canadian athletics in July 1926 when she cleared what was then a national record 1.51 (4-11½) at a meet in her native Saskatoon. In September 1926, at the Saskatchewan Championships in Regina, Catherwood cleared 1.585 (5-2 7/16) to claim her first world high jump record.

In 1927, Catherwood competed in her first Canadian AAU Championship. There she won the high jump with a mark of 5-2, and also won the javelin throw. In 1928, she repeated her Canadian titles in both events, held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her javelin mark of 118-8 at Halifax set a new Canadian record, but her winning high jump of 1.60 (5-3) produced her second world record.

Prior to the Amsterdam Olympics, Catherwood lost her world record to the Dutchwoman, Lien Gisolf, who cleared 1.605 in Maastricht on 18 July. Gisolf and Catherwood were co-favorites for the Olympic high jump that was held on 5 August 1928. Gisolf was the crowd favorite, competing in her native country, but Catherwood was the media darling. Because of her beauty, they christened her The Saskatoon Lily, and she was the most photographed female athlete in Amsterdam. Pushed by both Gisolf and America's Mildred Wiley, Catherwood did not win easily. But when the bar was raised to 1.59 (5-2½), only Catherwood was successful, winning the gold medal. Unfortunately for Catherwood, in 1928 the javelin throw was not contested at the Olympic Games. After the Olympics, Catherwood briefly toured Europe before returning to a tumultuous parade in Canada. She was presented with a $3,000 gift as an educational trust fund. She dispelled rumors that she was turning to Hollywood by allegedly stating, "I'd rather gulp poison than try my hand at motion pictures."

Apocryphal stories abound about Catherwood's life after Amsterdam. It is said that she never competed again. It has also been written that she married the 1924 men's Olympic high jump and decathlon champion, Harold Osborn. Neither story is true.

Olympic Results

More results
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

Amsterdam 1928

G
High Jump
High Jump Athletics