Exclusive: Dutch appeal to Coe after incredible London 2012 snub to Blankers-Koen

Wednesday, 04 April 2012
By Duncan Mackay

Fanny Blankers_Koen_with_Athlete_of_the_Century_AwardApril 4 - A row has broken out after Fanny Blankers-Koen, winner of a record four gold medals at the 1948 Olympics, was snubbed by Transport for London (TfL), who have unveiled a special Olympic Legends Underground Map to mark the Games returning to the capital.

To celebrate the Games, the names of 361 tube station stops have been changed to the names of Olympic athletes but TfL have missed off arguably the greatest sportswoman in history who left her indelible mark in London.

Blankers-Koen rewrote the record books at London by winning four gold medals in the 100 metres, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m relay, a performance that earned her the unforgettable nickname of the "Flying Housewife".

Before the Games the 30-year-old mother of two from Holland, had been dismissed by the British athletes' team manager, Jack Crump, as "too old to make the grade".

Fanny Blankers_Koen_wins_at_London_1948
Now the Dutch are furious that, 64 years on, London has delivered what many will consider to be an even greater insult after the map was redrawn by Alex Trickett, the former international editor for the BBC sport website, and David Brooks, who claims to be a sports historian.

The iconic London Underground has been redrawn to mark the achievements of some of the great Olympians in history but there is no mention of Blankers-Koen, whose achievements at London were so great that in 1999 it earned her the accolade of the greatest female athlete of the 20th century.

But among those honoured on the new tube map are the likes of Mary Decker, the American 3,000 metres runner, a convicted drugs cheat.

She never won an Olympic medal, let alone the four in the same Games claimed by Blankers-Koen, who has statues errected in her honour in Holland and is still revered eight years after her death in 2004 at the age of 85. 

Fanny Blankers_Koen_statue

It seems incredible that Trickett and Brooks should draw up a map which honours Dutch legends like cyclist Leontien van Moorsel, who won three gold medals, swimmer Inge de Bruijn, a four-time Olympic champion, triple Olympic swimming gold medallist Pieter van den Hoogenband, two-time hockey gold medallist Stephan Veen and Anton Geesink, who won a gold medal at Tokyo in 1964, but ignore Blankers Koen.

The Royal Dutch Athletics Federation has now written to Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012, to appeal to him to help recifty the situation.

"It is an embarrassing mistake," they said in a statement.

"We urge them now to correct this mistake." 

The affair will be an embarrassment to Coe, a keen historian of the sport.

Although he is in no way to blame, it comes only a month after he spoke eloquently to a Dutch journalist during the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul about his fond memories of meeting Blankers-Koen when he competed at the meeting in Hengelo named in her hononour.

"She was a wonderful woman and I will always treasure the short time I spent with her," he said.

"She is a legend."

Unfortunately, according to Tfl and Trickett and Brooks, she is not.

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz


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