Dutch Olympic Heroine of 1948: The Flying Housewife

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My Uncle’s late partner had very happy memories of seeing Fanny Blankers-Koen win Olympic gold in the 200m in London in 1948. Everyone at that time was well aware of the Hongerwinter in the Netherlands during the war, and Joy, a keen athlete herself, admired her spirit and verve tremendously. Some said a 30 year old mother was too old to be competing and would be better off at home looking after her family, but she won 4 Olympic gold medals, became known as “the flying housewife” and made many female athletes feel their sex was no barrier to athletic success.

After the London Olympics, there is some controversy with questions about the role she and her husband/trainer played in the barring of rival runner Foekje Dillema from competing in athletics for the rest of her life, but there’s no doubt she was a huge inspiration to many young women. I’d love to read a modern day biography of her. She broke records in so many ways.

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