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James H. Burnett III – Boston Globe – Friday, 24 May 2013 (originally published 20 May)

Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky in 1894 with the Columbia bicycle she rode from Boston to Chicago. Image: Boston Globe

Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky in 1894 with the Columbia bicycle she rode from Boston to Chicago. Image: Boston Globe

ARLINGTON — Ask the most ardent sports fans to name some of the earliest female stars and they are likely to toss out names like Wilma Rudolph, Billie Jean King, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

All stars, no doubt, but one of the names least likely to be mentioned is that of arguably the first international female sports star — emphasis on “international” — Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky, a 23-year-old Bostonian who, in June 1894, set off on an around-the-world bicycle journey. Her goal was to make the trip in 15 months. And she succeeded . . . sort of.

Author Peter Zheutlin, Kopchovsky’s great-grandnephew and author of “Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride,” the book on which the film is based, says there’s no evidence the wager that supposedly prompted Kopchovsky’s ride ever happened. Still, what Kopchovsky did on her adventure far exceeds a long bike ride, says Zheutlin, who has also written for the Globe. Her actions forced people to choose sides, either pro-women’s rights or pro-status quo, says Zheutlin, who believes Kopchovsky’s original goals were simply to make money, make a name for herself, and get a lengthy break from home life . . .

. . . read complete article . . .

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