Riverdale, IL

She Overcame Incredible Odds to Achieve Her Dream: The Inspiring Story of Elizabeth "Betty" Robinson Schwartz

Rejoice Denhere

A story of incredible resilience, determination and triumph of the human spirit

Elizabeth "Betty" Robinson Schwartz was just 20 when life as she knew it, came crashing down. Her story is not just inspiring, it is one of incredible resilience, determination and triumph of the human spirit. She overcame incredible odds to achieve her dream.

Robinson was born in 1911 in Riverdale, Illinois. She began running at a young age, and she quickly showed a natural talent for the sport. In 1928, she qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in the 100-meter dash.

Six decades later, when Robinson was interviewed for the book, Tales of Glory, this is how she remembered the race:

“I can remember breaking the tape, but I wasn’t sure that I’d won. It was so close. But my friends in the stands jumped over the railing and came down and put their arms around me, and then I knew I’d won. Then, when they raised the flag, I cried.”

Just a few months later, Robinson was involved in a horrific plane crash. Accounts of the rescue operation differ. The fact remains that when she was found her condition was so bad she appeared to be dead or dying. The man who pulled her from the wreckage placed her in the trunk of his car and drove her to a nearby undertaker. Thankfully, he did not act too hastily.

Robinson's recovery from the crash was long and difficult. She had to learn to walk again, and she had to undergo extensive physical therapy. However, she never gave up on her dream of running again.

In 1936, still unable to kneel for a normal race start due to the fractures and surgeries on her left leg, Robinson qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in the 100-meter dash and won a medal.

After the Olympics Robinson continued to run, setting several world records. She also became a successful coach, and helped to train many other Olympic athletes.

Robinson died in 1999. She is remembered as a pioneer in women’s sports, and her story is an inspiration to us all. 

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