The Dutch success in the relay is still historically unique

“This 4 x 100 meter relay – we can safely assume – was again the work of Mrs. Fanny Blankers-Queen,” said radio commentator Peter Kniggins after the final match at the London Olympic Games in 1948. The golden race quarters were run by three other Dutch athletes: Xenia Stad-de Jong, Nettie Witziers-Timmer and Gerda van der Kade-Koudijs.

But Knegjens saw this to be true. On the last switch, 1st place wasn’t in sight. Blankers-Koen’s long strides, also known as Flying Housewife, eventually gave teams from Australia and Canada back. Her games were anyway: in addition to 4 × 100, she also won gold in the 100 m, 200 m and 80 m hurdles.

The success of the relay in London was unique in the history of national athletics. It never came from a very successful tradition of such songs. Only now with Olympic qualification for five teams (women, men and mixed) can the Netherlands once again dream of medals in the Games.

An allusion to customs long before the beginning of the Christian era

The beauty of the carryover numbers is that they clearly indicate customs that existed long before the beginning of the Christian era. Until then, communication over greater distances sometimes went through different contestants who relayed important messages to each other along the way. The ancient Greeks also had rituals in which a flame was passed on. The echo of this can be seen in the context of the Olympic Fire, which has been brought to the Games site by many hands from Olympia since 1936.

In athletics, Americans began the substitutions in the 1880s. Athletes ran with the flag. This often led to Hell, which is why the current more practical wand was chosen not long ago. Not that this results in trouble-free replacements: important relay events still end up regularly eliminating teams due to falling sticks or transfers outside of designated areas.

The first three Olympiad of the modern era (1896, 1900, 1904) had no successive numbers. The first men’s relay, a team effort in a solo sport, was shown at the 1908 Games in London. As with the later 4 x 400 meters, the four athletes covered a total of 1,600 meters, but the distances were unevenly distributed in this case. He was the first runner to reach 200 meters, the third to 400 meters, and the last runner to 800 meters.

He disappeared in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm

This 200-200-400-800 model disappeared at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, where the 4x100m and 4x400m men’s runs for the first time. The British team won the gold in the shortest distance, while the US team won the longest.

Women ran the 4 x 100 meters for the first time at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. The host team finished fifth, 1.5 seconds behind the Canadian gold medalist. Some newspapers really disliked him: “We are not a fan of running by women and we think the sport is promoting ‘the skinny line’ too much. ”

The women’s 4 x 400m Olympic relay scoop had to wait until the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Athletes from East Germany won, ahead of their counterparts in the United States and West Germany.

Athletics at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer has another novelty: 4 x 400 meters with two women and two men. The Netherlands has already qualified for this. Mixed relay races are also introduced in swimming and triathlon.

Paul van der Sten reviews the news every week Historical eyeglasses.

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