In her very first race, just a few days after her 17th birthday, Helen Stephens of Fulton High School (Missouri) equalled the world indoor record for 50m and beat the reigning Olympic 100m champion, Stella Walsh. Following that auspicious start, Stephens was never defeated and, although her career lasted only some 30 months, it involved more than 100 races. Apart from her two Olympic gold medals, she won 14 AAU titles in the sprints, the shot put, discus throw, and the standing long jump. She also finished ninth in the discus at the 1936 Olympics. In 1935 she set world records of 10.8 for 100y and 11.6 (twice) for 100m and shortly after the Berlin Games she ran 11.5 for 100m in Dresden, but none of these apparently accurate marks were ever recognized by the IAAF. Helen Stephens later turned professional and ran a series of exhibition races against Jesse Owens and for seven years she toured with two professional basketball teams, the Professional Red Heads and the Olympic Coeds. She then joined the Federal Civil Service and worked for more than 25 years at the Defense Mapping Agency Aerospace Center in St. Louis. On her retirement, Stephens, who never married, returned home to Missouri, and helped coach at her alma mater, William Woods College.
Personal Bests: 100y – 10.4 (1935); 100 – 11.5 (1936); 200 – 24.1 (1936); SP – 44-11½i (13.70) (1937); DT – 39.50 (1936).
Athlete Olympic Results Content
You May Like