Past Olympics Athletes >> Fanny Blankers-Koen

Track and Field

Fanny Blankers-Koen

Date of birth





175 cm


63.0 kg


100m, 200m, 80m hurdles, 4x100m relay, long jump, pentathlon

World Records

10 (100m, 80m hurdles, long ump, pentathlon)

Olympic Games (4 medals - 4 gold)

  • 100m: 1st (1948)
  • 200m: 1st (1948)
  • 80m hurdles: 1st (1948)
  • 4x100m relay: 1st (1948), 5th (1936)

European Championships (8 medals - 5 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze)

  • 100m: 1st (1950), 3rd (1938)
  • 200m: 1st (1950), 3rd (1938)
  • 80m hurdles: 1st (1946, 1950)
  • 4x100m relay: 1st (1946), 2nd (1950)

The fastest housewife in Olympic history

A teenage training in a home economics school may have merited Francina "Fanny" Blankers-Koen the nickname, the "Flying Housewife". Yet to have seen the Dutchwoman romp to four gold medals at the 1948 London Games would have failed to evoke any such images.

Born into an agricultural family in a town between The Hague and Amsterdam, from an early age Fanny began to show signs of her impending nickname.

Enjoying sewing, gardening and cycling, the blond-haired youngster was quiet and reserved. That was, until she discovered sport.

At the age of 14 her future potential quickly became apparent. The sewing kit and gardening tools were left behind and she joined the Hoofdorp swimming club and the gymnastic and fencing association. There, Franz De Haan, her gymnastics coach, introduced her to athletics.

Subsequently, Fanny joined the Amsterdam Women's Athletics club where she met her future husband Jan Blankers. He would later play a pivotal role in her success.

The long road to Olympic success

So began Fanny's Olympic trail, amassing regional and national titles and eventual selection for the 1936 Games. At only 18, her stay in Germany ended with 5th in the 4x100m and 6th in the high jump.

Returning to Holland, Fanny trained through often bitterly cold winters. Her determination soon paid off and, in 1938, she broke her first world record in the 100 yards (11 sec).

The breakout of the Second World War put paid to her Olympic ambitions. However, following her marriage to Jan Blankers in 1940 she continued to impress Europe with her strength and versatility.

At 30 years old, when the Games resumed in London in 1948, the flying housewife romped home to wins in the 100m, 80m hurdles, 200m and the 4x100m.

Holland's most famous housewife continued to display her superiority in track and field before finally hanging up her spikes at the age of 37. In later years, she was head of successive Dutch women's Olympic teams.

In January, 2004, she died at the age of 85 in a retirement home in Holland.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.


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