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Stanisława Walasiewicz

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 2
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
SexFemale
Full nameStanisława•Walasiewicz (-Walsh, -Olson)
Used nameStanisława•Walasiewicz
Nick/petnamesStella, Stefania
Born3 April 1911 in Wierzchownia, Kujawsko-Pomorskie (POL)
Died4 December 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
Measurements174 cm / 60 kg
AffiliationsWarszawianka, Warszawa (POL) / Legia Warszawa, Warszawa (POL)
NOC Poland

Biography

Stanisława Wałasiewicz was the outstanding “female” in athletics in the 1930s. Born in Poland, her parents emigrated to the USA when she was two, but she competed for Poland at the Olympics as she did not gain US citizenship until after World War II (1947), and eventually became known as Stella Walsh. A sprinter/long jumper, she set 37 marks that could be considered world records, but “only” 14 of these were ratified by the IAAF. In addition to her Olympic performances, Walsh won at the Women’s World Games in 1930 in the 60, 100, and 200, and in 1934 at 60 metres. At the 1938 European Championships she won the 100 and 200, placed second in the long jump and in the 4×100 relay (with Otylia Kałużowa and the non-Olympians Barbara Książkiewicz and Jadwiga Gawrońska), and placed sixth in the javelin throw for Poland. Walsh competed both in Poland and the United States in national championships, and eventually won 18 Polish titles between 1933-46 (competing only five times), and won 40 AAU titles between 1930-51 in multiple events in the US. This included 11 AAU championships in both the 200/220y and the long jump.

Stella Walsh married Harry Olson in 1956. She remained in the US and in 1980 was shot by muggers in a Cleveland parking lot and died. An autopsy was performed that revealed mixed sexual characteristics, although certain media descriptions that she was a man are not fully accurate. The final autopsy findings were one of gynandromorphism, meaning mixed internal sexual organs. However, Olympic historian Erich Kamper (AUT) found a birth certificate which noted that her birthname was Stefania Wałasiewicz, further leading to the confusion.

Personal Bests: 100y – 10.5 (1944); 100 – 11.6 (1937); 200 – 23.6 (1935); LJ – 6.12 (20-1) (1939).

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1932 Summer Olympics Athletics POL Stanisława Walasiewicz
100 metres, Women (Olympic) 1 Gold
Discus Throw, Women (Olympic) 6
Javelin Throw, Women (Olympic) DNS
1936 Summer Olympics Athletics POL Stanisława Walasiewicz
100 metres, Women (Olympic) 2 Silver

Special Notes