Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Stars of the London Olympic Games No.1


Our new series pays tribute to celebrated Olympians of 1908 and 1948 and marks the third London Olympics in 2012. First out of the blocks…

Fanny Blankers-Koen
1918 – 2004
Holland
Sprinter/Hurdler
Four Gold Medals 1948


At the London Olympic Games of 1948 – nicknamed the “Ration Book Games” due to the straitened post-war climate in which they were staged – 30-year-old Dutchwoman Fanny Blankers-Koen won her country’s first track and field gold since the start of the modern Games in 1896. She took the tape in the 100m, 200m and 80m hurdles and won team gold in the 4x100m relay. The British coach Jack Crump was joined by a chorus of disapproving journalists in the build up to the Games in questioning Mrs Blankers-Koen’s age. “She is too old,” claimed Crump, “to make the grade.”

Despite having beaten three British women athletes into silver medal positions to take her individual golds, Blankers-Koen was taken to the hearts of the London crowd having endured the Nazi occupation of Holland. It later emerged that she had been pregnant with her third child while winning her medals. In stark contrast to the rewards on offer to sportsmen and women today, when she returned to Holland she was presented with a free bicycle from the city of Amsterdam.

In 1999 Blankers-Koen was voted "Female Athlete of the Century" by the International Association of Athletics Federations.




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