In 1938, at the Amsterdam games, Blankers-Koen broke a world record with her time of 11.0 seconds in the 100-yard dash.
During this time, World War II had the Netherlands under Nazi occupation, halting international competition for about six years. But Blankers-Koen still managed to train and compete and became a world-record holder at 80-meter hurdles by the end of 1943.
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Following the war, she competed in the 1946 European Championships in Norway and later announced she intended to compete in the 1948 London Games. She was a 30-year-old mother of two at the time.
"I got very many bad letters, people writing that I must stay home with my children and that I should not be allowed to run on a track with - how do you say it? - short trousers,'' Blankers-Koen told The New York Times in 1982.
But that didn't stop the track star. At the London Games, she won four gold medals, making her the first woman to win four medals in a single Olympics. According to the Google blog, 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."
"One newspaperman wrote that I was too old to run, that I should stay at home and take care of my children. When I got to London, I pointed my finger at him and I said: 'I show you,'" she said.
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“Her quick feet didn’t just set records,” Google wrote. “Blankers-Koen’s accomplishments flattened stereotypes of female athletes at the time, earning her the nickname ‘The Flying Housewife.’”
In 1999, Blankers-Koen was recognized as female “Athlete of the Year” by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
She died in Amsterdam at age 85 on Jan. 25, 2004. The Olympics organization still regards her as one of the great Olympians in history.
Read more about Blankers-Koen at olympic.org.