At the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, William Woods student Helen Stephens won two gold medals. Many of her mementos are on display in the Helen Stephens Sports Complex on the William Woods University campus.
Known as the “Fulton Flash,” Stephens won nine Amateur Athletic Union track-and-field titles by the age of 18. Stephens drew the public eye as a brilliant champion in the 1936 Olympics, when she ran the 100 meters in 11.5 seconds – setting a world record that stood for 24 years.
“The Fulton Flash” won a second gold as anchor leg in the 400-meter relay. As an amateur she set world, Olympic, American and Canadian records in running, broad jump and discus.
After winning three more U.S. national titles (50 meters, shot put, 200 meters), Stephens retired from competitive track. During her 30-month career, she competed in more than 100 races, winning every one of them. She and Jesse Owens headlined a tour before Stephens moved on to briefly play professional basketball and softball.