|Organization:||Track & Field|
Had Camille Sabie Malbrock been born 40 years later, perhaps her name would routinely arise in conversations about the greatest American female track and field stars of the 20th century. The fact remains that she was, but had the misfortune of competing at a time when women's sports were relegated to a distant corner of the athletic landscape.
As a student at Newark Normal School (now Kean University) in the early 1920s, Sabie played basketball and competed in intramural track and field, as there was no varsity team at the time. It was here that her talents as a hurdler developed.
From the inception of the modern Olympics in 1896 through Sabie's era, women were not permitted to compete in Olympic track and field events. When the International Olympic Committee again decided not to allow women to compete in the 1920 games, the United States and Europe organized the International Women's Sports Meet, to be held every four years.
The first games were hosted by Paris in 1922. During tryouts for the United States team, Sabie broke the existing world record in the 100-meter high hurdles. The record was disallowed, however, when it was ruled that the hurdles did not stand at regulation height.
Sabie, undeterred, nevertheless made the team and emerged as its brightest star. She proceeded to capture the gold in the 100-meter hurdles at the Paris games in the world record time of 14.4 seconds. The record was allowed, and will likely stand forever, as the standard distance for the event has now been shortened to 80 meters. Sabie also claimed gold in the standing broad jump and won the silver in the running broad jump. In addition to her three solo medals, Sabie also anchored the silver medal-winning relay team. She completed the games as the top American scorer.
Upon returning home, Sabie competed in the Newark Star-Eagle Meet, where she shattered two more world records, running the 60-meter hurdles in 8.8 seconds and leaping 8'3 ¾" in the standing broad jump. Sabie also tied the world mark of 12 seconds in the 100-yard dash en route to placing second in the meet with 13 points.
She retired from competition at the age of 19.
Sabie earned a degree in elementary education from Newark Normal School in 1922.