Lillian Copeland

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameLillian•Copeland (Drossin-)
Used nameLillian•Copeland
Born24 November 1904 in New York, New York (USA)
Died7 July 1964 in Los Angeles, California (USA)
Measurements165 cm / 59 kg
AffiliationsLAAC, Los Angeles (USA)
NOC United States
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 2


Born Lillian Drossin, she was renamed Copeland when her mother remarried after her father’s death. Lillian Copeland won a total of nine AAU titles between 1925 and 1932 in three different events – shot, discus, and javelin – and in 1926 she took all three championships setting a new U.S. record in each event. After the 1928 Olympics, Copeland entered Southern Cal Law School and did not compete seriously again until 1931. The following year she finished third in the discus at the Final Trials and barely made the Olympic team, but at the Games she came up with a new Olympic record of 133-2 (40.59) on her last throw and snatched the gold medal from Ruth Osborn, who had led the field going into the last round. The 27-year-old Copeland was then the oldest U.S. woman to have won an Olympic gold medal in track & field events. In 1935 she came out of retirement and won three gold medals in her specialty events at the Second World Maccabiah Games in Palestine. During the seasons 1926-28 Lillian Copeland broke the world javelin record three times and set two world records for the 8 lb. shot put. The shot put was not included in the women’s program at the Games until 1948, which almost certainly deprived her of further Olympic honors. For a specialist in throwing events, she had a surprising turn of speed and in February 1928, she was a member of the team from the Pasadena A&CC that set a new U.S. record of 50.0 for the 440y relay. Lillian Copeland worked for many years for the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department in many capacities and was a juvenile officer for 24 years.

Personal Best: DT – 40.58 (1932).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1928 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Lillian Copeland
Discus Throw, Women (Olympic) 2 Silver
1932 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Lillian Copeland
Discus Throw, Women (Olympic) 1 Gold