STELLA WALSH Biography - Famous Sports men and women

 
 

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STELLA WALSH

Name: Stanislawa Walasiewicz                                                             
Born: 3 April 1911                                                                       
                                                                                         
Stanislawa Walasiewicz (also known as Stanislawa Walasiewiczawna and Stella             
Walsh) (April 3, 1911 - December 4, 1980) was a Polish born Polish and American         
athlete and an Olympic champion.                                                         
                                                                                         
Walasiewicz was born April 3, 1911 in Wierzchownia near Rypin, Congress                 
Poland. Her family emigrated to the United States when she was only three months         
old. Her father, Julian Walasiewicz, settled in Cleveland where he found a job           
as a steel mill worker. Her family called her Stasia, a common Polish                   
diminutive of her Christian name, which later gave birth to the American version         
of her name Stella.                                                                     
                                                                                         
She started her athletic career in a public school in Cleveland. Fast and agile,         
in 1927 she easily won the competition for a place in the American Olympic team         
started by the Cleveland Press newspaper. However, Walasiewicz was not an               
American citizen and could not obtain citizenship under the age of 21.                   
However, after the success of Halina Konopacka, a Polish athlete who won gold in         
the discus throw at the 1928 Summer Olympics inspired Walasiewicz to join the           
local branch of Sokaé, a Polish sports and patriotic organization active also           
among the Polish diaspora. During the Pan-Slavic Slet of Sok├│┼é movement in             
Pozna┼ä she scored her first major international victories. She won 5 gold medals:       
in running for 60, 100, 200 and 400 metres, as well as long jump. She was               
asked to stay in Poland and join the Polish national athletic team. She also             
continued to run in various American challenges and games.                               
                                                                                         
In the late 1920s she was already a well-known athlete. As an amateur she was           
also working as a clerk in Cleveland. While still not a US citizen, Walasiewicz         
did participate in, and won, numerous American national championships, usually           
under the name of Stella Walsh. For her part in inter-state athletic                     
championships the city of Cleveland awarded her a car. In 1930 she was chosen           
the most popular Polish athlete by the readers of the Przegl─ůd Sportowy (Sports         
Review) daily.                                                                           
                                                                                         
In the 1932 Summer Olympics she represented Poland. In both the heats and the           
semi-finals of the 100 m, Walasiewicz equalled the current world record of 11.9         
seconds, a feat she repeated in the final, which she won. The same day, she also         
finished 6th out of 9 in the discus throw event. Upon her return to Poland               
she almost instantly became one of the best-known personalities. She was                 
welcomed by gigantic crowds in the port of Gdynia and a few days later she was           
awarded the Golden Cross of Merit for her achievements. She was also again               
chosen the most popular Polish person related to sports - and held that title           
for three years.