Long sad story of Stella Walsh reveals her masters-age marks

Stella had obstacles — making her WRs and Olympic medals all the more amazing.

M60 Renaissance Man Dave Ortman shares a link to an incredible story about Stella Walsh, the Polish-American Olympian who hid her intersex gender for decades. The revealing piece by Rob Tannenbaum includes a section on her later year track exploits: “At 35, her time at 100 yards was faster than it was at 19. At 37, she won the 100, 200, and long jump national championships for a fourth time; no one else had ever done it, and 50 years passed before someone else did. She won eight consecutive long jump titles at the national championships, and eleven total, the last one when she was 40. (She went 17-3.) When pentathlons were introduced for women at the national championships in 1950, she won the first five titles, including when she was 43, prompting sportswriter Jeane Hoffman to call Walsh an ‘ageless wonder of the spike-and-girdle set.’ ‘Everybody was in awe of her,’ said Nell Jackson, an Olympian and Hall of Fame sprinter who couldn’t outrace Walsh until 1949, when she was 20 and Walsh was 38.”

Stella was inducted into the USATF Hall of Fame in 1975, which said: “She married and lived in Cleveland until 1980 when she died from gunshot wounds. An autopsy revealed that Walsh had male sex organs.” That doesn’t do her justice. Her genitals weren’t standard male-issue. The story runs nearly 16,000 words. Well worth reading.

I have the late Louise Mead Tricard’s “American Women’s Track & Field: A History,” and it includes dozens of mentions of Stella and her marks. Lemme know if you need any.

Print Friendly

January 11, 2017

2 Responses

  1. Alan Kolling - January 12, 2017

    A truly fascinating read! I remember both Wyomia Tyus and Edith McGuire commenting at the 2004 Olympic Trials in Sacto about the disqualification of Ewa Klobukowska, who anchored the WR-setting victorious Polish 400 relay team in Tokyo 1964, and their despair at ever getting the medals reallocated.

  2. Tom Sputo - January 12, 2017

    Just for the record, Ewa Klobukowska gave birth to a son in 1968 which would pretty much invalidate the decision based on the chromosome testing in 1967.

Leave a Reply