Biography:

The first time women were allowed to compete in track and field at the Olympic Games was Amsterdam 1928 and the 100m was the first event to be contested. After false starts in the 100m final, Ethel Smith finished third behind her Canadian teammate Bobby Rosenfeld who won silver. Smith was a member of Canadian 4x100m relay team that set an unratified world record of 49.3 seconds in the heats, and won in the final in a world record time of 48.4 seconds. Dubbed “The Matchless Six” by the Canadian Press, the women of the Canadian Olympic team became national heroes after Amsterdam 1928. The group of Smith, Bobbie Rosenfeld, Myrtle Cook, Jean Thompson, Ethel Catherwood and Jane Bell, lived up to their billing by winning the women’s team athletics’ event (based on total points).

From a poor family, Smith had to quit school at the age of 14 to work, which she did in Toronto’s Garment District. In 1924, she won a foot race at a company field day which was the start of her athletic career. While running for the Parkdale Ladies’ Athletic Club, Smith was also a versatile athlete excelling in baseball and basketball. At 21, Smith was the 1927 Canadian 200m champion. Including Amsterdam 1928, Smith ran at the 1929 Millrose Games in New York, and finished out her career winning the 60 yards at the 1929 Ontario Championships.

Smith was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1949 and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1955.