ROSENFELD, FANNY (1905–1969), track and field athlete, Olympic gold and silver medal winner, Canada's Female Athlete of the Half Century (1950), and sports journalist. Rosenfeld was born in Russia in 1905 and immigrated with her family to Canada as a child. She grew up in Barrie, Ontario, before moving to Toronto in 1922. By 1925 Rosenfeld, widely known as "Bobby," had won several Canadian titles and set a number of Canadian track and field records. In 1924 she won the Toronto Women's Tennis Championship and was also a member of several championship basketball, softball, and hockey teams, including some sponsored by the ymha in Toronto.
Rosenfeld represented Canada at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, the first time that women's track and field appeared on the Olympic program. She ran for Canada in three events, the 400-meter relay, the 100-meter dash, and the 800-meter race. She won a gold medal in the 400-meter relay and a silver in the 100-meter dash and took fifth place in the 800-meter race. Controversy arose over the finish in the 100-meter dash. Canadian fans were convinced that Rosenfeld actually won even though the medal went to American competitor Elizabeth Robinson. In the 800-meter race, she held back to run beside a faltering teammate in order to offer moral support. She came in fifth in that race when she could easily have won a gold or silver medal. Rosenfeld remains the only Jewish athlete to ever win a gold medal in track and field at the Olympics.
In 1929 Rosenfeld's sporting career was curtailed and finally ended in 1933 as a result of severe arthritis. In 1939 Rosenfeld began a 20-year career writing on sports for Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. Her column, "Feminine Sports Reel," focused on women in sports and sport issues across Canada. In 1950, Rosenfeld was honored as Canada's Woman Athlete of the Half-Century. Public parks in Toronto and Barrie have been named in her honor, and in 1996, Canada Post issued a stamp in her memory. The annual Canadian Female Athlete of the Year awarded is also named in Fanny Rosenfeld's honor and in 2000 the Jewish Women's Archive in the United States named Rosenfeld one of their Women of Valor.
[Avi Hyman and
Brenda Cappe (2nd ed.)]