January 27, 2004 by

Fanny Blankers-Koen

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Categories: Sports

Francina Elsje Blankers-Koen, an Olympic gold medalist in track and field for the Netherlands, died on Jan. 25 of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. She was 85.
Blankers-Koen was only 17 when she set a national record in the 800 meter race in 1935. Coached by her husband, former triple jump champion Jan Blankers, she spent the next 20 years raising two children and setting 16 world records in short-distance running, the pole vault, hurdles, the long jump and pentathlon.
The cancellation of the 1940 and 1944 Olympics kept Blankers-Koen from competing during World War II, but at the 1948 Olympics in London, “the Flying Housewife” won a record four gold medals in the 100 and 200 meter sprints, the 80 meter hurdles and the 400 meter relay. The only other athletes to win four gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics were Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis.
In 1999, the International Association of Athletics Federations selected Blanker-Koen as the best female athlete of the 20th century. The FBK Games, the most prestigious track and field event in the Netherlands, were named for her.
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2 Responses to Fanny Blankers-Koen

  1. Fred Van Loenen

    I remember as a young boy,in Amsterdam,Holland, that we were watching a parade close to my home (probablythe Queen’s birthday), when my Dad pointed out to me, (this was on the “haarlemmermeer straat”), that Fanny Blankers-Koen was waving out of her window (kind of hanging out of her window). I never realized that she lived so close to me!

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