The Matchless Six: The Story of Canada's First Women's Olympic Team

The Matchless Six: The Story of Canada's First Women's Olympic Team

by Ron Hotchkiss
     
 

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It is July 1928, and Canada’s first women’s Olympic team — “The Matchless Six” — is heading to Amsterdam, the site of the ninth Olympiad of the modern era. Canada’s finest female track-and-field athletes, having survived rigorous training and the grueling selection process at the Olympic Trials, were determined to take their

Overview

It is July 1928, and Canada’s first women’s Olympic team — “The Matchless Six” — is heading to Amsterdam, the site of the ninth Olympiad of the modern era. Canada’s finest female track-and-field athletes, having survived rigorous training and the grueling selection process at the Olympic Trials, were determined to take their big talent and big dreams to the top. Meet Jane Bell, Myrtle Cook, Bobbie Rosenfeld, and Ethel Smith, the “Flying Four” who comprised Canada’s first relay team; Ethel Catherwood, the “Saskatoon Lily,” who became the champion high-jumper and the most photographed female athlete at the Olympic Games; and Jean Thompson, the youngest member of the team at seventeen, who became one of the world’s most outstanding middle-distance runners. It was an impressive achievement:

“A team of six from Canada, a country of less than ten million, competed against 121 athletes from 21 countries, whose total population was 300 million.” Impressive indeed.

For many years, historian Ron Hotchkiss has been fascinated by “The Matchless Six,” the conquering heroines who took Amsterdam by storm. His extensive research has led to this riveting account, full of black-and-white archival photographs, of the events leading up to and following that fateful summer in the history of Canadian sport.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Melissa A. Caudill
Canadian sports fans, Olympic historians, runners, and readers wanting to be inspired by women athletes will enjoy this historical review of Canada's first women's Olympic team. The book begins with an interesting discussion of how the Olympics finally came to accept female athletes after being such a male dominated sporting and viewing contest for so long. The well-researched book contains many quotes and numerous black-and-white photographs of the six young women as they climbed the ranks to become part of that first Olympic team to go to the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928. Next, the book carries the reader to the Olympics and details the successes, challenges, and heartbreaks that the team went through. The team's overall success was celebrated by reporters around the world. It was announced that these six women were able to win the world's championship in track and field against much bigger track and field squads and therefore earned their nickname the "Matchless Six."
VOYA - Elisabeth Hegerat
At the Olympic Games in classical Greece, any woman caught competing risked death. Women were permitted to attend and watch the events of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, but they were asked to leave their parasols at home to avoid blocking the view of other spectators. Women were not allowed to compete, however, as organizers felt that their place was in the home, and such "female amazons" who were interested in athletics would never find a husband. In the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, female athletes were permitted to compete in five events-100 meters, 800 meters, 4 x 100 meters relay, running high jump, and the discus throw. Canada sent six women: Jane Bell, Ethel Catherwood, Myrtle Cook, Bobbie Rosenfeld, Ethel Smith, and Jean Thompson. This book chronicles how the team was formed, the girls' training, their journey to Amsterdam, and details their competitions day-by-day. The last few chapters discuss their homecoming, and Hotchkiss goes on to give a brief biography of the rest of their lives. The extensive coverage of each event should satisfy the more statistically oriented sports fan, and the hard data is leavened with a significant amount of anecdotes, photos, and personal information for the more story-minded reader. This fascinating look at a remarkable group of women will appeal to teens with an interest in biography and women's sports. It is strongly recommended for Canadian public and school libraries and is a good choice for supplemental material on the Olympics and female athletes for American libraries.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Hotchkiss provides detailed information on the six Canadian athletes who won the track-and-field event in 1928, the first Olympics that included women. The personalities and accomplishments of Jane Bell, Myrtle Cook, Bobbie Rosenfeld, Ethel Smith, Ethel Catherwood, and Jean Thompson are highlighted with biographical information, including how they were chosen, how they trained, the effects of the journey to Amsterdam, and the joys and challenges they faced. The experiences of the "Matchless Six" that led to the competition, along with details about their growth as a team, show how remarkable their accomplishments were. Average- to poor-quality black-and-white photographs of the women, and of the men who both assisted and hindered their progress, dot the book. Accuracy is supported by quotes from newspapers, sports writers, coaches, and managers. The immense emotion of the team watching the Canadian flag and hearing "The Maple Leaf Forever" is felt through the clear style of writing. Anyone interested in the history of the Olympics, the history of women in the Games, or of track and field will find the book worth reading.-Janice C. Hayes, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Ron Hotchkiss makes readers know and care about the women, while vintage black-and-white photos vividly carry the visual aspect of the story.”
Quill and Quire

"There's a splendid sense of adventure to The Matchless Six, an invigorating account of the first Canadian women to compete at the summer Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928... Author Ron Hotchkiss... presents a compelling, inspirational portrait of these young women and their athletic quest, from early training through six weeks overseas to their triumphant homecoming. He's done them proud."
The Hamilton Spectator

"Hotchkiss does a very good job at contextualizing this particular Olympiad in terms of world events and Canadian cultural and social norms. Most of all, though, he provides a suspenseful account of the heartbreaks as well as the triumphs of the Matchless Six's Olympic experience, and vivid portraits of the individual women..."
The Globe and Mail

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781770490673
Publisher:
Tundra
Publication date:
01/11/2012
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
11 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

Ron Hotchkiss is a retired high-school history teacher, with a passion for research, and a particular interest in 20th century Canadian history. His involvement with the “Matchless Six” began while researching an article on Ethel Catherwood for The Beaver: Canada’s History Magazine. That early research spawned many other articles and interviews, and two documentaries. Ron Hotchkiss has published numerous articles about Canadian History, and does regular presentations to school groups and historical associations. This is his first book.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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