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Fanny Blankers-Koen

In 1948, the first Olympics after World War II were held in London. The woman who left an indelible impression on the Games was a Dutch athlete, Fanny Blankers-Koen. She set the track alight with her explosive start and was soon nicknamed the 'Flying Dutchwoman'. Fanny won four gold medals, emulating Jesse Owens' feat at Berlin in 1936.
Coached in secret during the war years by her husband Jan Blankers, Fanny came into the Games holding seven world records, which included the high and long jumps. She was thirty years old, mother of two and in the early months of her third pregnancy. Nevertheless, she proved unbeatable. Even hitting the barrier during the 80 m hurdles did not prevent her from winning the gold. She won the 100 m and the 200 m. In the relay, with the Dutch team struggling in fourth place, she took the baton on the last leg and tore through the field for her fourth gold medal of the Games. She had been advised not to take part in the jumps because of her conditon or she might have bagged one more gold.
The British athletes' team manager, Jack Crump, had written her off before the Games as 'too old to make the grade'. Fanny Blankers-Koen left him wishing he'd never opened his mouth.

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