Rosenfeld, Fanny (1903–1969)

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Rosenfeld, Fanny (1903–1969)

Canadian track-and-field star and sportswriter. Name variations: Bobbie Rosenfeld. Born in Katrinaslov, Russia, on December 28, 1903; died in December 1969.

Won a gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay and a silver in the 100-meter sprint in the Amsterdam Olympics (1928).

Born in Katrinaslov, Russia, in 1903, Fanny Rosenfeld grew up in Canada, playing softball and hockey with the fellows. In her teens, she bobbed her hair so it would not interfere in sports and from that point forward became known as "Bobbie." Although she had a local reputation as a sprinter, Rosenfeld did not take up track and field until she was 19. In 1922, she moved to Toronto with her family. There, she kept books for a chocolate factory and played softball and ice hockey on the company team. She also began her running career, accumulating Canadian titles and setting national records. In 1925, Rosenfeld tied the world record of 11.0 for the 100-yard dash. At the Ontario Ladies Track and Field championships that same year, she won the discus, 220-yard dash, low hurdles, and long jump, placing second in the 100-yard dash and javelin. Rosenfeld played tennis as well, and won the Toronto Ladies Grass Court Tennis title in 1924. After she qualified for the team, Rosenfeld represented Canada in three events in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. She won a gold in the 4x100-meter relay and many fans felt she won the 100 meters against American sprinter Betty Robinson ; even the judges disagreed. When the decision went to Robinson, who had been beaten by Rosenfeld in the semifinal, Canada lodged a protest to no avail. In an era before photo finishes, some races remained in dispute. In any case, Rosenfeld took the silver, and her teammate Ethel Smith won the bronze.

Not long after the Olympics, Rosenfeld was laid up with arthritis and spent the next 18 months on crutches. She battled the disabling arthritis for the rest of her life. For over 20 years, starting in 1937, she wrote the column "Feminine Sports Reel" for the Toronto Globe and Mail. She joined the promotion department at the Globe and Mail in 1957, 12 years before her death.


Slater, Robert. Great Jews in Sports. Middle Village, NY: Jonathan David, 1983.

Wallechinsky, David. The Complete Book of the Olympics. NY: Viking, 1988.

Karin Loewen Haag , Athens, Georgia

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Rosenfeld, Fanny (1903–1969)

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