OTDIH—Olympic Champion Ethel Hannah Catherwood

Ethel Catherwood, the “Saskatoon Lily”, 1928 Summer Olympics.

On this day in history, 5 Aug 1928, Ethel Hannah Catherwood won the gold medal for the high jump in the 1928 Summer Olympics.

Two years earlier, on 6 Sep 1926 at an event in Canada, Ethel had set the high jump world record of 1.58 meters. That record was broken on 3 Jul 1928 by the Dutch high jumper Lien Gisolf with a jump of 1.582 meters. [1]

On the final day of the 1928 Summer Olympics, Ethel set the new world record with her final jump of 1.595 meters. [1] With this jump, Ethel held the Canadian record for the next quarter century.

The Canadian high jumper Ethel Catherwood in action, 1928 Summer Olympics.

Ethel’s accomplishment is notable in several ways. The 1928 Summer Olympics was the first time women were allowed to participate at the Olympics. Hers was the first ever gold medal awarded to a female high jumper. And Ethel is still the only Canadian woman to win a gold medal in an individual track and field event at the Olympics.

The 1928 Canadian Olympic team heading off to forge their place in sports history. Ethel Catherwood is the tallest woman, center of photo.

Ethel was born on 28 Apr 1908 in Hannah, North Dakota, the daughter of Joseph Catherwood and Ethel Jane Hannah. The family moved to Scott, Battleford District, Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1910. One of nine children, Ethel was a natural athlete, playing baseball, basketball, and hockey. She began to high jump before she was ten years old, and was soon jumping heights rivaling the world’s best jumpers.

After the Olympics, Ethel returned to Saskatoon, Canada, an international sensation. However, she soon withdrew from public life after her private life was sensationalized by the press [2]. She married and moved to California, where she died in 1987.

Ethel was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (1949), Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (1955), and the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame (1966).

Canada Postage Stamp, Sporting Heroes series, Ethel Catherwood, High Jump, 1928 Summer Olympics.

Ethel Hannah Catherwood (1908-1987) is 2nd cousin 3x removed of MKS in the Watne branch.

References: 
[1] Athletics at the 1928 Summer Olympics—Women’s high jump.
[2] Saskatoon Lily: record-breaker, scandal-maker.