Dorothy Tyler-Odam

Ibolya Csák, Elfriede Kaun and Dorothy Odam
at the 1936 Olympics.
Medal record
Women’s athletics
Representing  Great Britain
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 1936 Berlin High jump
Silver medal – second place 1948 London High jump
European Championships
Silver medal – second place 1950 Brussels High jump
Representing  England
British Empire Games
Gold medal – first place 1938 Sydney High jump
Gold medal – first place 1950 Auckland High jump
British Empire and Commonwealth Games
Silver medal – second place 1954 Vancouver High jump

Dorothy Jennifer Beatrice Tyler, MBE (née Odam; 14 March 1920 – 25 September 2014) was a British athlete who competed mainly in the high jump. She was born in Stockwell, London.[1]

Odam competed for Great Britain in the 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin, Germany where she won the silver medal behind Ibolya Csák. She jumped the highest and was the first to clear 1.60 meters, and would have won under modern countback rules, but under the 1936 rulebook a jump-off was called for, and Csák won the gold.[2]

In 1939 she broke the world record in the high jump with 1.66m, but Germany's Dora Ratjen allegedly broke her record quickly.[2] Odam was suspicious of Ratjen and, according to Odam, "They wrote to me telling me I didn't hold the record, so I wrote to them saying, 'She's not a woman, she's a man'. They did some research and found 'her' serving as a waiter called Hermann Ratjen. So I got my world record back."[2][3] Odam’s world record was formally recognized by the sport's world governing body, the IAAF, in 1957.[2]

She won the silver medal again in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, making her the only woman to win Olympic athletics medals before and after the war.[4] Her 1936 win also made her the first British woman to win an individual Olympic medal in athletics.[2]

Odam was also twice a gold medallist at the British Empire Games, winning at Sydney in 1938 and Auckland in 1950. In Sydney she was the only Englishwoman to win athletics gold, setting a Games record of 5 ft 3 in, which is the same as 1.60 meters.[2]

In 2012, she was the official starter for the London Marathon.

She died on 25 September 2014 aged 94 following a long illness.[5]


  1. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Dorothy Odam-Tyler". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2020-04-17. Retrieved 2014-07-14.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Steven Downes. "Dorothy Tyler: High jumper who met Hitler then became the first British woman to win an individual Olympic medal in athletics | News". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  3. ^ Ratjen had retired from competing in 1938, though, and her titles and records had been pulled. Hamburger Nachrichten, Oct 1, 1938, p. 11 (one of several sources).
  4. ^ Thordardottir, Ingibjorg (2008-08-26). "UK | Keep it simple say 1948 Olympians". BBC News. Retrieved 2014-07-14.
  5. ^ "Dorothy Tyler dies aged 94". 26 September 2014.