Margaret T. Murdock
Any discussion of women’s sports in the state of Kansas would be incomplete without the mention of Kansas Olympian Margaret Thompson Murdock. Born in Topeka in 1942, Murdock became one of the most decorated women in shooting sports history not only in the United States but across the globe. She not only excelled on the greatest sports stage in the world but frequently was the first woman to ever do so.
After graduating from Kansas State, Murdock won the gold medal at the 1966 Women’s Championships and was the first woman ever, in any sport, to break a man’s record when she posted a world record 391 in the small-bore rifle division at the 1967 Pan American Games. Murdock was the first woman to win an open competition (where men and women competed together) and was the first woman to become a member of the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team during the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Through her accomplishments on the field of competition, Murdock earned the respect of her male counterparts.
Perhaps the best example of Murdock’s skill and earned respect came in the 1976 Olympics. Murdock tied U.S. teammate Lanny Bassham for the gold in the small-bore, three position category with a score of 1,162 of a possible 1,200. Officials for the Olympics examined the targets further and awarded the gold to Bassham despite the tie in points. Both shooters were disappointed with the outcome and out of a show of respect for his teammate, Bassham asked Murdock to share the gold medal platform with him, which she rightfully accepted. Although she was officially awarded the silver medal for the 1976 games, her performance against the men of the sport helped to create more participation by women in the sport and led to the establishment of a separate women’s competition during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Murdock was the fourth member, and first woman, inducted into the U.S. International Shooting Hall of Fame in 1992 and was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.