Esther Stroy
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)100 m: 11.5 s (1972)

200 m: 23.4 s (1972)

400 m: 53.5 s (1968)[1]
Medal record
Women’s athletics
Representing  United States
1971 Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place 1971 Cali 4×100 m relay
Bronze medal – third place 1971 Cali 200 m

Esther Stroy (born August 12, 1953) is a former American track and field athlete, who competed in the sprinting events. She is best known for competing at the 1968 Olympics in the 400-meter dash as a 15-year-old, the youngest competitor at those games.

Track career

Esther Stroy was only 15 years and 64 days old when she competed at the 1968 Olympics.[2]

In 2012, Stroy, now Esther Stroy-Harper, remembered it as a it being "more than the world’s best summer vacation. It was the opportunity of a lifetime".[3]

In the 400 m event itself, she reached the semi-final but injured herself whilst leading the race and finally finished fifth so therefore not qualifying for the final. Her Olympic misfortune was repeated in 1972. As Stroy-Harper recalls “Right before the 1972 Olympics, I injured that same hamstring, so I didn’t make the team. I went to Munich, but as a spectator.”[3][4]

In the 1968 United States Olympic Trials, Stroy was third in the 400 m event and was entered but did not compete in the 200 m. In 1972, she was third in her heat of the 200 m and was entered but did not compete in the 400 m.[5]

Between the two Olympics, she continued running for her universities and country.

The high point of her career was winning gold at the 1971 Pan American Games in the 4 x 400 meter relay and bronze in the 200 meters. She also won the 220 yards dash at the 1971 and 1972 AAU Indoor Championships.[3][6]

In 1971, she was a member of a 4 x 1-mile women's relay team that set a new world record at a USA versus Pan-Africa meet.[7][8]

In 1969, she was ranked second in the USA and ninth in the world in the 400 metres/440 yards by the votes of the experts of Track and Field News.[9][10]

Personal life

Stroy was the eighth of eleven children of Mr and Mrs Dennis Stroy. Her father was a cab driver in the District of Columbia.[11]

Esther Stroy attended Nevelle Thomas Elementary School then Spingarn High School, Washington D.C.[3]

Stroy also joined a neighbourhood track club. Here she came under the tutelage of Brooks Johnson, now one of America's best known track coaches but at that time he was still a relative novice coach. She was to become Brook's first of many Olympians.[12]

Her father was able to see her run in Mexico City in the 1968 Olympics, but her mother unfortunately was not able to having injured herself during the preparations to travel. Being of high school age, Stroy attended classes at a local school during the six weeks of the Olympics training camp at Los Alamos, New Mexico in order to maintain her academic skills.[11]

Stroy attended Howard University after graduating from Spingarn. After Howard, she attended Stanford University where she began her career as a coach and a recruiter. She worked in California for several years before returning to Washington D.C. In Washington, she continued working as a coach, mainly working with young athletes aged 8 to 17/18.[11]

Stroy is married to Daniel Harper, a retired United States Army colonel, and now uses the surname Stroy-Harper.[11]


  1. ^ Esther Stroy at Sports Reference Esther Stroy biography, Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  2. ^ Sports Reference "Athletics at the 1968 Ciudad de México Summer Games", Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "Stroy remembers her time as a 15-year-old at '68 Games". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2023-04-26.
  4. ^ Some "Dashing Dolls Debut In Dayton:Feminine charm and bright new faces come to the fore in the girls' and women's national AAU championships", Sports Illustrated, July 14, 1969.
  5. ^ Archived 2016-03-27 at the Wayback Machine The History of the United States Olympic Trials - Track & Field, R Hymans, USA Track & Field, 2008, p 149 and 160.
  6. ^ USA Indoor Track & Field Champions: Women's 200 m, USA Track and Field. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  7. ^ Company, Johnson Publishing (1971-08-05). Jet. Johnson Publishing Company.
  8. ^ "A Roundup Of The Sports Information Of The Week", Sports Illustrated, July 26, 1971.
  9. ^ Archived 2012-10-24 at the Wayback Machine U.S. Rankings Index - Women's 400 Meters, Track and Field News.
  10. ^ Archived 2011-05-20 at the Wayback Machine World Rankings Index - Women's 400 Meters, Track and Field News
  11. ^ a b c d "Baltimore Afro-American - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 2023-04-26.
  12. ^ "Under Brooks Johnson's tutelage, David Oliver clears every hurdle". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2023-08-07.