Fanny Blankers-Koen’s 100th Birthday – On a rainy summer day in 1948, onlookers at London’s Wembley track saw an unexpected athlete make history. Dutch runner and 30-year-old mother of two Fanny Blankers-Koen outstrided her opponents in the women’s 200m by 0.7 seconds—the highest margin in Olympics 200m history and a record that still stands today.
Born near Baarn, the Netherlands, in 1918, Blankers-Koen had set a national record for the women’s 800m by age 17. At 18, she competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, placing fifth in the 4x100m and sixth in high jump.
After the 1940 and 1944 Olympics were canceled, many thought Blankers-Koen would never make another Olympics. When she declared her intentions to compete in the 1948 London Games, she received letters from many criticizing her for continuing to race despite being a mother and insisting she stay home.
But words couldn’t break Blankers-Koen’s stride. She captured four golds during the 1948 London Games, winning the 100m, 80m hurdles, 200m, and 4x100m relay to become the first woman to win four medals in a single Olympics. Her quick feet didn’t just set records. Blankers-Koen’s accomplishments flattened stereotypes of female athletes at the time, earning her the nickname “The Flying Housewife.”
Today, we celebrate what would’ve been her 100th birthday with a Doodle that imagines her racing down the track, smiling mid-stride.
Happy birthday, Fanny!
You can find more about Fanny Blankers-Koen’s 100th Birthday on the official Google Doodle Page