She declared to the press reporters gathered at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932: "I came out here to beat everybody in sight, and that is exactly what I am going to do." The blonde 18-year-old was Mildred 'Babe' Didrikson. A mere slip of a girl, she had entered eight events in the U.S. women's national championships and Olympic trials held earlier that year. Within the space of 2 1/2 hours, Babe had won five events outright and tied for first place in another, clinching the championship. She had been sent as a one-woman team by the insurance company where she worked. The second-placed team had sent 22 players!
Babe was miffed that women were allowed to take part in only three events in the 1932 Olympics: the javelin, the high jump and the 80 m hurdles. She set new world records in the javelin and 80 m hurdles. In the high jump however, she was disqualified because officials ruled that her style of jumping was 'illegal'. But absurdly, she was allowed to share the world record and even given the silver medal!
Babe turned to playing golf in the 1930's and her style of playing dramatically changed women's golf. She also played basketball, baseball and tennis with distinction and excelled at diving and swimming. Many consider her the greatest woman athlete in sports history.
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