Fanny Blankers-Koen, a decorated Olympic sprinter, was honored with a Google Doodle on April 26! Here’s 4 things to know about the legendary Dutch athlete!
1. Fanny Blankers-Koen was a Dutch sprinter. — She was born Francina Elsje Blankers-Koen. To this day, she is the first and only woman to have won four athletics gold medals at a single Olympics, in London in 1948. She was a 30-year-old mother of two when she competed at the London Olympics, where she competed in 11 heats and finals in eight days. And, she won the 200m by 0.7 seconds, while being pregnant with her third child. Aside from her Olympic achievements she won five European titles and 58 Dutch championships.
2. Fanny Blankers-Koen’s nickname was the “Flying Housewife.” — Her world records, title wins, and legendary resume earned her the nickname. The international press dubbed her with the name “Flying Housewife,” as well as, “the flying Dutchmam, and “Amazing Fanny.” The term “housewife” came from the media’s portrayal of her being the perfect mother. There is even a statue of Fanny Blankers-Koen in Rotterdam, Netherlands that depicts her running with her head tilted back, a pose she became known for.
3. Today, April 26, would have been her 100th birthday. — As a tribute to her iconic career and milestone birthday, Fanny Blankers-Koen she was honored with a Google Doodle.
4. After retiring in 1955, she served as the team leader of the Dutch athletics team. — Fanny Blankers-Koen was with the team from 1958-1968. In 1981, the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games, an international athletics event, were established. The games are still held annually in Hengelo. In 1999, she was honored with the “Female Athlete of the Century” award at the International Association of Athletics Federations gala. She also wrote an autobiography in 1949 with help from her husband, Jan, who passed in 1977.
5. Later years… In her later years, she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was deaf, according to reports. She lived in a psychiatric nursing home, and died in January 2004 at age 85.