Fanny Bobbie Rosenfeld: Canada’s Unparalleled Female Athlete

Saurav Singh

Fanny “Bobbie” Rosenfeld (28 December 1904 – 14 November 1969) was a Canadian track and field athlete who competed in the 1920s and 1930s. She is considered one of the greatest female athletes in Canadian history and was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1949. Rosenfeld was known for her versatility as an athlete and competed in a wide range of events, including the 100-meter dash, the long jump, and the discus throw. She won numerous medals at national and international competitions, including a gold medal in the 4×100-meter relay at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. In addition to her athletic accomplishments, Rosenfeld was also a sportswriter and advocated for the inclusion of women in sports.

Life and Career

On 28 December 1904, Rosenfeld was born in Ekaterinoslav, Russia (now Dnipro, Ukraine), and her family moved to Barrie, Canada while she was still an infant. When she was a young girl, she excelled in sports such as basketball, softball, lacrosse, hockey, and tennis. At a sporting carnival, Rosenfeld’s softball teammates encouraged her to compete in the 100-yard dash, and she beat the top Canadian sprinter. Immediately following her run, she underwent intense training and began making headlines at events such as Athletic Day at the Canadian National Exhibition and Ontario’s first women’s track and field championship.

In 1928, Rosenfeld competed in the first Olympic games in which women were allowed to participate in track and field. In the 100-meter race, she narrowly missed first place and earned a silver medal. Additionally, her relay team won gold in the 4×100-meter relay. Not long after the Olympics, a severe case of arthritis forced Rosenfeld to change tracks from competing. In addition to coaching and managing various women’s sports teams, she worked as an athletics reporter at the Globe and Mail for 20 years. Her column, “Sports Reel,” covered not only sports news, but also countered the stereotype that sports made women unfeminine.

Among the first athletes inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, Rosenfeld received the award for Canadian woman athlete of the first half century. Ever since 1978, the Canadian Press has been granting the annual Bobbie Rosenfeld Award to a female athlete of the year. Bobbie Rosenfeld continues to inspire generations of young female athletes who see her legacy as a symbol that they too can achieve the impossible and overcome any hurdles in their pursuit of greatness. Fanny Bobbie Rosenfeld died on 14 November 1969 in Toronto and is buried at Lambton Mills Cemetery in Humber Valley Village.

Award and Legacy

Fanny “Bobbie” Rosenfeld was a highly decorated athlete who won numerous awards and accolades throughout her career. Some of her most notable achievements include:

  • Gold medal in the 4×100-meter relay at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam
  • Gold medals in the 100-yard dash, long jump, and 4×110-yard relay at the 1926 British Empire Games
  • Induction into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1949
  • Induction into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1955

In addition to these awards, Rosenfeld was also recognized for her contributions as a sportswriter and advocate for women in sport. She received the Lou Marsh Trophy, which is awarded annually to Canada’s top athlete, in 1932 and was named one of the country’s top female athletes of the first half of the 20th century by the Canadian Press in 1950. Rosenfeld’s legacy as an athlete and advocate for women in sport has had a lasting impact in Canada and beyond. She is remembered as one of the greatest female athletes in Canadian history and is celebrated for her contributions to the sports community.

On 28 December 2022, Google Doodle celebrates Fanny ‘Bobbie’ Rosenfeld’s 118th birthday.