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Sport-On this day: Born April 26, 1918: Fanny Blankers-Koen, Dutch athlete

Video Credit: Reuters - Sports - Duration: 03:48s - Published
Sport-On this day: Born April 26, 1918: Fanny Blankers-Koen, Dutch athlete
Sport-On this day: Born April 26, 1918: Fanny Blankers-Koen, Dutch athlete
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SHOWS: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (FILE - 1950) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MONOCHROME) (ENGLISH COMMENTARY) 1.

DUTCH ATHLETE, FANNY BLANKERS-KOEN, AT THE 1950 EUROPEAN ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS 2.

BLANKERS-KOEN WINS 100 METRES AT EUROPEAN ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - 1996) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 3.

BLANKERS-KOEN WITH HER FOUR OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS 4.

VARIOUS CLOSE-UPS OF MEDALS 5.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DUTCH ATHLETE, FANNY BLANKERS-KOEN, SAYING: "And in the final I had a good start and after 10 metres I thought, 'I'm winning the gold medal'." AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - 1948) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MONOCHROME) (DUTCH COMMENTARY) 6.

SHIP WITH BLANKERS-KOEN ON BOARD ARRIVING AT HOOK OF HOLLAND 7.

DUTCH TEAM, INCLUDING BLANKERS-KOEN, WAVING FROM SHIP 8.

TEAM ARRIVING 9.

BLANKERS-KOEN WITH HER MEDALS BEING EXAMINED BY CUSTOMS 10.

BLANKERS-KOEN AND HER FAMILY GET INTO HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE AT STATION 11.

VARIOUS OF MASSIVE CROWDS WATCHING AS BLANKERS-KOEN PARADE PASSES THROUGH STREETS OF AMSTERDAM 12.

FANS SURROUNDING CARRIAGE AND SINGING DUTCH NATIONAL ANTHEM AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - 1996) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 13.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DUTCH ATHLETE, FANNY BLANKERS-KOEN, ON RECEPTION AFTER WINNING OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS, SAYING: "Oh, it was unbelievable.

And it was very strange before there wasn't interest in sport or track and field.

And then there was so many people and you feel like a queen.

And a car with six horses in front and all the people were clapping and singing.

That was quite nice.

My world changed at that time, after the Games." AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - 1948) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MONOCHROME) (DUTCH COMMENTARY) 14.

PAN DOWN FROM BICYCLE PRESENTED TO BLANKERS-KOEN BY HER NEIGHBOURS TO BLANKERS-KOEN AND HER HUSBAND IN CARRIAGE 15.

PEOPLE WAVING FROM WINDOWS 16.

CONGRATULATORY SIGN 17.

BLANKERS-KOEN AND FAMILY WAVING TO CROWD FROM WINDOW AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - 1996) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 18.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DUTCH ATHLETE, FANNY BLANKERS-KOEN, ON RECEPTION AFTER WINNING OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS, SAYING: "A bicycle from the neighbours from the street, because I was always - I had no bicycle after the war.

And when I went to track - it was not so far, about ten minutes by bicycle - I would take my husband's bicycle.

You know what the difference is between a lady's bicycle and a man's.

And I had a child in the front and a child on the back." BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (FILE - 1950) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MONOCHROME) (ENGLISH COMMENTARY) 19.

VARIOUS OF BLANKERS-KOEN WINNING THE 80 METRES HURDLES AT EUROPEAN ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS MONTE CARLO, MONACO (FILE, 1999) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 20.

VARIOUS OF BLANKERS-KOEN RECEIVING THE IAAF AWARD AS FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE CENTURY FROM PRINCE ALBERT OF MONACO AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - 1996) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 21.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DUTCH ATHLETE, FANNY BLANKERS-KOEN, ON RECEPTION AFTER WINNING OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS, SAYING: "There is a big difference between '48 in all the world and the Olympics.

It's a job now, and there's money.

I think we had more fun in our sport than they have now." BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (FILE - 1950) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE) 22.

BLANKERS-KOEN WINS 80 METRES HURDLES AT EUROPEAN ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS 23.

PHOTOGRAPHERS 24.

BLAKERS-KOEN AFTER THE RACE AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - 1948) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE) 25.

CROWDS ON STREETS 26.

BLANKERS-KOEN AND HER FAMILY WAVING FROM WINDOW LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (FILE - 1998) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 27.

EXTERIOR OF WEMBLEY STADIUM IN 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF OLYMPICS 28.

OLYMPIC FLAG FLYING ABOVE STADIUM 29.

VARIOUS OF 1948 WINNERS COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUE ON OUTSIDE OF STADIUM SHOWS NAME OF FANNY BLANKERS-KOEN.

THE PLAQUE WAS UNVEILED IN 1950 STORY: Fanny Blankers-Koen was bemused by her success and never comfortable with adulation, but the Dutch sprinter, nicknamed the Flying Housewife, was the first post-World War Two sporting superstar after winning four golds at the 1948 Olympics.

She might have won more at the Games in London but was restricted to just three individual events plus a relay, even though she had held the world record, at one time or another, in six different disciplines.

Blankers-Koen went to London as a 30-year-old mother of two and her expectations were not much higher than to relive the excitement of her previous Olympic experience in Berlin in 1936, when she was a bright-eyed teenager.

"I hoped to get into a final, that would have been a highlight for me," she told a Dutch TV documentary decades later.

Yet in a matter of days, Blankers-Koen romped to the 100 metres gold, then the 80m hurdles, the 200m by a runaway margin and finally anchored the Dutch to gold in the 4x100m relay, taking the baton in fourth place and powering her long legs through the field.

In the process she offered legitimacy to women's sport, debunked myths about motherhood and competition, and helped lift her nation out of post-war gloom.

She was overwhelmed by the reception she received on her return to the Netherlands, with crowds lining the streets 10-deep as she was paraded through Amsterdam in a horse-drawn carriage.

"It was very strange because before there wasn't interest in track and field.

And then there was so many people and you feel like a queen.

My world changed at that time, after the Games," she recalled.

Blankers-Koen was a sprightly 81-year-old in 1999 when named Top Female Athlete of the 20th Century.

She delighted a news conference with her astonished reaction when congratulated on her achievement.

"You mean it is me who has won.

I had no idea!" She told biographers she never got rid of her anxiety despite her superstar status.

"I was always nervous and unsure but in one way it was a positive, because I was never sure of winning.

The angst in my shoes was probably my advantage." Blankers-Koen passed away in 2004, aged 85.

(Production: Kurt Michael Hall, Mike Brock)




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