At the Olympics in Bombed-Out London, She Forever Changed Women’s Sports

As Blankers-Koen recalled to me, he instructed her: “It is not necessary for me that you are running. But if you don’t run, I’m sure you will be sorry for it later on.”

Feeling renewed, she gained the 200 meters by seven-tenths of a second — nonetheless the widest margin at any Olympics — and reached the end line together with her head again, so relaxed that her eyes appeared closed.

One occasion remained, the 4×100-meter relay. Blankers-Koen practically missed the race, having gone searching for a raincoat. Running the anchor leg, she took the baton in fourth place, 5 yards behind the chief, however prevailed at the tape.

In an oral historical past of the Games, Blankers-Koen mentioned disparaging feedback by Jack Crump, the supervisor of the British observe and subject crew who dismissed Blankers-Koen as “too old to make the grade,” had angered and motivated her. “Too old was I?” she mentioned. “I would show them.”

When Blankers-Koen arrived again in Amsterdam, she rode by way of the streets in a carriage pulled by 4 horses. Her neighbors gave her a bicycle, David Wallechinsky wrote in “The Complete Book of the Olympics,” so she wouldn’t “have to run so much.”

She participated in a 3rd Olympics, the 1952 Helsinki Games, however, bothered by painful boils, she stopped operating the hurdles race after putting the first two boundaries. It was her final main worldwide competitors.

In 2003, a half-century after Blankers-Koen retired, the journalist Kees Koman revealed a biography — the Dutch title interprets to “A Queen With Man’s Legs” — which offered a extra sophisticated portrait of the Olympic star as distant, insecure and consumed with success. Her daughter was quoted as saying, “I think my mother never loved herself and, the other way around, she could not give love and friendship herself to other people.” And: “My mother only enjoyed herself when she was being worshiped.”

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