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Babe Didrikson Zaharias: Sports, Facts, And Family

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She is one of the best athletes of the 20th century; learn more about Babe Didrikson

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It is rare to find someone excelling in so many sports and even representing the country in a prestigious event like the Olympics. One such person was Mildred Ella 'Babe' Didrikson Zaharias.

An American athlete, superstar in golf, baseball, basketball, and track and field, Babe Didrikson secured two gold medals for the United States in the 1932 Summer Olympic Games. Regarded as the best female athlete of all time, she became an inspiration to many female athletes of this generation.

Born on June 26, 1911, in the coastal city of Port Arthur in Texas, Babe Didrikson was the sixth of seven children. Her parents, Hannah and Ole Didriksen, were Norwegian immigrants, and her three elder siblings were born in Norway. Though her surname was Didriksen at first, Babe later changed it to Didrikson. At the young age of four, the Didrikson family went to Beaumont and moved into 850 Doucette. Her nickname Babe was inspired by Babe Ruth, who was a professional baseball player. It was given to her when she hit five home runs in a baseball game during her childhood.

Apart from being excellent in sports, Babe also competed in sewing and even made her own golfing outfits and her other clothes. She even won the South Texas State Fair that took place in Beaumont for sewing in 1953. Not so good in studies, Babe dropped out of school without graduating when she moved to Dallas. She played basketball there. She was even a great singer and a talented harmonica player who recorded many songs for the Mercury Records label. Babe Didrikson married a professional wrestler named George Zaharias on Dember 23, 1938, in St. Louis, Missouri. She was later known as Babe Zaharias, taking the surname of her husband, whom she met while playing golf. Even her husband was quite talented, as the Greek-American man was also a part-time actor and appeared in a film called 'Pat and Mike'. George was known as the Crying Greek from Cripple Creek.

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Who was Babe Didrikson?

Babe Didrikson was an American woman and an athlete who mastered everything she did and won many accolades for her country, including the Olympic Games.

Babe Didrikson's family consisted of her mother, her father, and their seven children, including her.

On June 26, 1911, Babe Didrikson was born in Port Arthur, Texas. She is regarded as one of the most celebrated athletes of the 20th century, with her name engraved in the history of basketball, track and field, and mostly in golf. She had the dream to be the greatest athlete of all time since a very tender age and won medals for her achievements. She was a standout baseball player and was even given the name Babe for her performances. From the years 1930-1932, she was a part of the women's All-America basketball team. She dropped out of school to pursue sports, and what a star player she turned out to be! She was part of the basketball team and also took part in track and field events and won eight events in the national championship competition. The next time she tied in the ninth spot. In the Women's Amateur Athletic Association (AAU) of 1932, she won six individual awards and also the team title by competing as a team by herself. She was confident and competitive, and that's what made her such a great sportsperson. She set world records in the high jump, shot put, broad jump, 80 m (0.08 km) hurdles, javelin, and baseball throw.

She married a wrestler named George Zaharias. He later became her manager. On vacation after the wedding, George lined up a golf exhibition for her. She was later, in 1943, awarded amateur status as a golfer and she then started to play in many golf tournaments. With an amateur status, she also won the US Women's Amateur Tournament in 1946. Before turning professional in 1947, she won 17 amateur tournaments in a stretch and also won the British Women's Amateur Golf Tournament. She was the only American woman with this feat at that time. She won the US Women's Open, first in 1948 and again two years later. She met an amateur golfer named Betty Dodd after 12 years of marriage who moved in with the family, and both the women were inseparable until Babe's death.

Babe Didrikson first became famous for her basketball skills and was hired by Employers Casualty Insurance Company of Dallas as a secretary so that she could play for the Golden Cyclones basketball team. The Golden Cyclones team won an AAU national title, and she was named an all-American twice. She was a woman with high resolve and determination to achieve whatever she desired.

Unfortunately, in the year 1953, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. After being operated on for the tumor, she won the third US Women's Open golf title after less than four months. In 1955, she had another cancer operation, and in the last days of her life, she and George formed the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Fund to fund treatment centers and cancer clinics.

Babe Didrikson's death happened on September 27, 1956, in Galveston, Texas.

What was Babe Didrikson famous for?

Babe Didrikson was known as the woman who broke world record after world record in jumping events, javelin throw, golf, and many other events. Babe Didrikson's Olympic record was also phenomenal.

Babe Didrikson Zaharias' education qualifications were not very good, but she made up for it by becoming one of the leading sportspeople in the world, not just the US! Apart from her life achievements, she is known for her gold medals in the 80 m (0.08 km) hurdles and javelin throw in the 1932 Olympics of Los Angeles. A world record was set by her in the high jump, 80 m (0.08 km) hurdles, the broad jump, the shot put, the baseball throw, and the javelin. She also won the US Women's Amateur in 1946 and the 1947 British Ladies' Amateur in golf. After this achievement, she turned professional and won the US Women's Open in 1948, 1950, and 1954. The 1954 tournament was won right after Babe was diagnosed with cancer. In 1950, Ladies Professional Golf Association was formed, and Babe played an important part in that. This helped encourage more female golfers. She was, in fact, the lead competitor of the organization.

She was voted Female Athlete of the Year in 1932, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1950, and 1954 by the Associated Press. In 1999, she was also named the greatest female athlete of the 20th century by the Associated Press.

She was one of the greatest examples of perfect physical skill, complete mental coordination and muscle harmony that the world had ever seen.

The Babe Didrikson movie adaptation of her life was also made with the title 'Babe'. There are streets, golf courses, stamps, documentaries and books named after her.

When did Babe Didrikson compete in the Olympics?

Babe Didrikson was excellent at many Olympic events.

In the Los Angeles Olympics of 1932, she became the only athlete ever (male or female) to win medals in various different sports events.

She was a master of the 1932 Olympics and won three medals.

How many medals has babe Didrikson won?

Babe Didrikson won three medals in the Olympics of 1932.

She set world records in the broad jump, high jump, 80 m (0.08 km) hurdles, shot put, javelin, and baseball. However, her main achievements were the three medals she won in the Olympics in different events. She won a gold medal in the 80 m (0.08 km) hurdles event and equaled the world record of 11.8 seconds. Additionally, she secured a gold medal in the javelin at the same Olympics. She won a silver medal in the high jump. Had she competed in the long jump or discus throw events, she might have won more medals too.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'Babe Didrikson', then why not take a look at 'Christopher Columbus facts' or 'Facts about Rosa Parks'?

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