IAAF President Lamine Diack (3rd from right) is flanked by Jan Blankers (l) and Fanny Blankers (r) at IAAF Golden Order of Merit presentation at Hengelo (c) © Copyright
General News 31 May 2004 – Hengelo, The Netherlands

Fanny Blankers-Koen honoured at the meeting and stadium which bear her name

Hengelo, The NetherlandsThis evening at beginning of the Thales FBK-Games - IAAF Grand Prix - held in the Fanny Blankers-Koen stadium, Fanny Blankers-Koen (NED) the world’s greatest ever female track and field athlete was honoured with the posthumous award of the IAAF Golden Order of Merit.

The most appropriate occasion

In honouring the life and achievements of Fanny Blankers-Koen, President Lamine Diack, who along with General Secretary Istvan Gyulai represented the IAAF, made the presentation to her children Fanny and Jan, with her grandchildren Monique and Bart in attendance, and gave the following address:

"The late Fanny Blankers-Koen was without any doubt the world’s greatest female athlete, and so it is natural for us to honour her  today in her native Netherlands with a posthumous award of the IAAF Golden Order of Merit."

"There can of course be no more appropriate occasion on which to pay this honour than at the Thales Fanny Blankers-Koen Games, the most famous athletics meeting in the country held annually in this picturesque stadium which bears Fanny’s name."

"The IAAF was very sad to receive the news of her death on the morning of Sunday 25 January."

"The whole Athletics family mourned the passing of this great ambassador for our sport whose achievements have yet to be matched. This was the reason why she was elected as the greatest female athlete of the 20th century at the end of 1999."

"I remember so well a glittering ceremony at the World Athletics Gala in November 1999, when Fanny Blankers-Koen along with Carl Lewis received the awards as the top athletes of the 20th century, reflecting an outstanding career of success on the track."

Four Olympic Golds 

"Fanny Blankers-Koen will be mainly remembered for winning four gold medals at the same Olympic Games in London, just as the world was emerging from the shadows of the Second World War."

"In 1948 she was a 30 year-old housewife and mother of two. Fanny Blankers-Koen won the 80m Hurdles, the 100m, the 200m and the 4x100m in London to become the first great symbol of women in sport."

Modest and she was talented

"But although she was talented, Fanny was also very modest; I still remember how astonished she was when she was told that she had been voted as Athlete of the Century."

"She said: 'You mean it is me who has won? I had no idea! When I think of all the great women athletes of this century, and the young people who are doing so well, I must say that I am surprised … but quite pleased as well! I can still remember every detail of every heat and final in London. Thankfully, my memories are still very vivid.' "

"I am really pleased to be here today to present this award in honour and respect of the remarkable talent that Fanny Blankers-Koen represented during her career."

"Even in death her enthusiasm and energy for Athletics lives on today. She remains a role model for all of us."

"A pioneer of women’s sport, Fanny will live on as an inspiration to all who wish either to compete for fun, or those who wish to aim high and become an Olympic champion and World Record breaker."

A mark of respect

Prior to the address and the presentation, everyone in the stadium rose in a minute's silence in respect of the memory of Fanny Blankers-Koen, and was followed by a film of the legend competing at the 1948 Olympics which shown on the stadium video screen.

World bronze medals presented

On the same occasion at the Thales FBK-Games, the Dutch 4x100m relay squad of Timothy Beck, Troy Douglas (absent), Patrick Van Balkom, Guss Hoogmoed and Caimin Douglas were also awarded with their bronze medals for their third place finish in 38.87 seconds at the World Championships in Paris last summer following the recent the annulment of the performances of Dwain Chambers.