Then a 30-year-old mother of two children, Fanny Blankers-Koen arrived at the 1948 London Olympic Games amid low expectations but became, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), “unlike anyone the Olympics had seen before or since.”
Originating from Utrecht in the Netherlands, Blankers-Koen was believed to be too old to compete at an elite level. Other detractors thought she should be at home with her children. Instead, with a performance that “shattered stereotypes about age and gender for elite athletes in sports,” she proceeded to win gold medals in the 100-metre dash, the 80-metre hurdles, the 200-metre dash and the 4×100-metre relay. Her 0.7-second victory margin in the 200 meters is a record that stands to this day.
At the time, Olympic rules prohibited her from entering more events—or entering the long jump and high jump—so her medal count could have been even higher. She was three months pregnant with her third child at the time.
Blankers-Koen died in 2004 as an iconic figure in the Netherlands. She held 58 national titles and 21 world records. In 1999, the International Association of Athletics Federations named her the best female athlete of the 20th century.
ROYAL DUTCH MINT COIN
This April, to mark the centennial of Blankers-Koen’s birth, the Royal Dutch Mint unveiled three commemorative coins to be issued at the end of June.
The coins’ shared design uses a dynamic style to reflect the athlete’s speed and strength. The border is composed of the gradations of a stopwatch, within which Blankers-Koen is seen running a lap around the coin. The theme is carried over to the coin’s other side with its rotating line silhouette of King Willem-Alexander forming a dynamic circle. The kaleidoscopic effect has one side showing itself to the other as if the king is pushing the athlete and vice-versa.
Three versions, each struck in a different metal, will be issued. A proof .900 Fine gold 10-euro coin has a weight of 6.72 grams; a 22.5-millimetre diameter; and a mintage of 1,000 pieces. A .925 Fine silver Proof coin has a weight of 15.5 grams; a 33-millimetre diameter; and a mintage of 5,500 pieces. An uncirculated five-euro coin made of silver-plated copper has a weight of 10.5 grams; a 29-millimetre diameter; and a mintage of 17,500 pieces.
For more information, visit knm.nl.