Super mom's race to history

Super mom's race to history

Super mom's race to history

Fanny Blankers-Koen led the way for all mothers in Olympic track and field, with a spectacular performance in the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

She won four gold medals -- in the 100M, 200M, 80M hurdles and 4x100M relay, disproving her critics who said at 30, she was too old to be a force in sprinting events.

Fanny had made her Olympics debut in 1936, finishing sixth in high jump. She was also part of the 4x100M relay team that ended ended fifth in Berlin, where Jesse Owens stunned the world with his four-gold performance. An autograph from the star, perhaps, was inspiration enough for the Dutchwoman to chart a similar path when the Games resumed after the second World War.

By then, she had married her coach Jan Blankers and was the mother of two children. As the world recordholder in all her events, Fanny fancied her chances. She won the 100M in 11.9 seconds, picked up the 80M hurdles gold in 11.2 seconds and the 200M in 24.4 seconds. Feeling the pressure after winning two gold medals, she almost pulled out of the 200 before her husband persuaded her to take the start.

Fanny’s conquest was complete when she anchored the relay team to gold medal, surging to the front after she received the baton in fourth place.

Fanny arrived to a grand reception back in Amsterdam, and, as that great chronicler of Olympic history David Wallechinsky recounts, she was presented with a cycle by her neighbours so that she didn’t have to run so much!

To date, the Super Mom remains the only woman athlete to win four track and field gold medals in Olympic history.

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