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Sports – July 4th

Sports – July 4th

Jean Thompson – Olympic Star

By Waxy

June 22, 2024 – In 1928, it was announced that women athletes would be allowed to compete for the first time in the upcoming Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Holland.

Five events were deemed suitable – on a “trial basis”. One of those events was the 800 meter race, which would be timely for a seventeen-year-old girl from Penetanguishene.

At the local Huronia trials in early June of 1928, Jean Thompson stunned everyone by not just winning but setting a new world’s record in the 800 metre event.

At the Olympic Provincial Trials on a wet and soggy track, all the girls started strongly but Jean set her own pace and bested her previous world record with a time of 2:26.

In Halifax Jean did it again by capturing the gold medal at the Canadian Olympic Trials in early July and again setting another world record.

While in Europe, Jean had been warned by her coach back home, LA Wendling, not to train with the men and for the first few days of practice, she was left alone to her own devices.

A week before the games were set to begin, Jean was running calmly around the Olympic track when fellow teammate Jack Walters, the 1500 metre runner, came up beside her. They held steady for a few moments talking before Walters went to pass her. Jean sped up, not wanting him to pass. He went faster and so did she. Before anyone could do anything about it, the ever competitive Jean was racing him at full-tilt. Suddenly, her footing slipped under the track’s spongy surface and she felt a stabbing pain shooting up her left shin. She stopped immediately and had to be helped from the track.

In the trials, Jean stepped up to the line, her left leg bandaged, against a field of ten other runners. She finished first and was in the finals.

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