Reading the Obits

Reading The New York Times at the Civic Center BART station on the way home, I caught a glimpse of an old picture of a very tall-looking woman with very muscular legs (“cut” is the modern term, I think) in a track suit racing toward a finish line. The headline said, “Fanny Blankers-Koen, Star of 1948 Olympics, Dies at 85.” Never heard of her. But she was sort of the female Dutch Jesse Owens of the sprinting world, if there could be such a thing. Was a big fan of Owens, got his autograph as an 18-year-old at the Berlin Games in 1936, where she competed unspectacularly; then came back after World War II to run in the London Olympics despite public disapproval of a 30-year-old mother of two running down the track in shorts. She won four gold medals.

The Google search on her name comes back with 3,870 listings, including this 2000 profile on the BBC site.

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