Olympic Memories: 1948

Fanny Blankers-Koen...Dutch sprinter who won four golds at the 1948 Games in London...

Fanny Blankers-Koen's displays at the 1948 London Games established the Dutch sprinter as a pioneer for women's athletics. The 30-year-old had been criticised for being too old and neglecting her home duties in caring for her two children alongside her quest for Olympic triumph. Her first Gold medal came with an easy victory in the 100 metres before a somewhat closer finish in the 80m hurdles. Blankers-Koen and the home favourite Maureen Gardner both finished on 11.2 seconds, with the Dutchwoman awarded the race. A bout of homesickness preceded her third gold medal, a 24.4-second finish giving her a 0.7sec cushion over her nearest rival, the largest Olympic 200m winning margin – a record which still stands. A remarkable fourth gold medal came in the 4x100m relay, alongside compatriots Xenia Stad-De Jong, Netty Witziers-Trimmer and Gerda van der Kada-Koudisis. Blankers-Koen was again the star performer, receiving the baton in third place before overhauling the American and Canadian runners in the home straight. Blankers-Koen remains the only woman to have won four golds in a single Games. She died in Amsterdam in 2004, aged 85.

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