Iowa History Daily: On October 19, 2008, Iowan Doreen Wilber died. Winner of the gold medal at the Munich Summer Olympics in archery, Wilber represents the first Iowa woman to win gold and her story represents the unlikeliest of Olympic achievements.
Born in Rutland and a 1948 graduate of Jefferson High School, Wilber took up archery after her husband Paul “Skeeter” Wilber accepted a bow and arrows set as payment for auto repairs at his shop. With only Skeeter to teach her, Wilber displayed great natural talent and started a meteoric rise to the top of amateur archery.
After dominating state-level competitions during the early 1960s, Wilber captured the national indoor gold medal in 1965. Becoming the first woman to shoot over 1200 in international competition while competing for the United States in competitions around the globe during the late-1960s and early-1970s, a trip to the Olympics in 1972 offered Wilber a shot at the pinnacle of athletic success.
In Munich, the first two rounds didn’t go as planned, and Wilber found herself in fourth place with just 1198 out of 1440 possible points. An incredible comeback performance saw Wilber notch the highest score in the field at 1226 while setting a new world record in the process. Paired with John Williams’s capture of the men’s gold, Wilber helped complete an America sweep in archery at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Today, the City of Jefferson honors Wilber with a statue celebrating her achievements. Additionally, the Archery Hall of Fame & Museum enshrined Wilber in their class of 1986. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar