News30 Apr 2012

Hall of Fame Profile – Irena Szewinska (Poland)


Szewinska is one of the most successful and multitalented athletes of all time.

Her fantastic international career started at the 1964 Olympics Games in Tokyo where, as an 18-year-old competing under her maiden name of Irena Kirszenstein, she was part of Poland's victorious 4x100m relay team and also won silver medals in the 200m and long jump.

Four years later, at the Olympics in Mexico City, she got a bronze medal in the 100m and in 1972 she added to her medal collection with a 200m bronze medal.

However, in 1973 she discovered the event with which she is most usually associated.

Switching to the 400m, she quickly proved very adept at the new distance. The following year she became the first woman to break 50 seconds over one lap of the track.

She won the 400m in the 1976 Olympic Games in another World record of 49.28. Between 1974 and the 1978 European Athletic Championships, she won 34 consecutive 400m finals.

In addition to her Olympic Games successes, on the continental stage she won five gold medals at the European Athletics Championships, including a triple triumph in the 200m, Long Jump and 4x100m in 1966.

The curtain came down on her stunning career at the 1980 Olympics when she was eliminated in semi-finals when she pulled a muscle.

Szewinska broke 10 World records and is the only athlete, either male or female, to have held a World record in the 100m, 200m and the 400m events.

She is currently a member of the International Olympic Committee and also the IAAF Council.
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