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Grete Waitz

19 april 2011

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Grete Waitz is vanochtend in het ziekenhuis overleden na een jarenlange strijd tegen kanker. Grete Waitz is 57 jaar geworden. Waitz was vooral bekend als marathonloopster. Zij werd de eerste wereldkampioene op de marathon en won op deze afstand zilver tijdens de Olympische Spelen in 1984. Ook won ze de New York City marathon maar liefst 9 keer.

Grete Anderson-Waitz (Oslo, 1 oktober 1953) is een voormalige Noorse atlete. Aan het begin van haar sportcarrière was ze succesvol op het veldlopen en de middellange afstand, later specialiseerde ze zich op de marathon. Ze verbeterde tijdens haar sportcarrière het wereldrecord op de halve marathon en de hele marathon.

Op jonge leeftijd bleek al snel dat Grete Waitz een talentvolle loopster was, maar ze had moeite om haar ouders te overtuigen atletiek als een potentieel beroep voor haar te zien. Haar beste prestatie behaalde ze in 1983 toen ze op het WK marathon in Helsinki de wereldtitel won. Met een tijd van 2:28.09 versloeg ze de Amerikaanse Marianne Dickerson (zilver) en de Russische Raisa Smekhnova (brons). Dat jaar kreeg ze ook de Abebe Bikila-award uitgereikt voor het bijdrage aan het langeafstandslopen dat jaar.

In 1984 won ze een zilveren medaille op de marathon van de Olympische Spelen van Los Angeles. Tussen 1978 en 1988 won ze negenmaal de New York City Marathon.

Wereldrecords Marathon 2:32.29,8 – (New York City, 22 oktober 1978)
Marathon 2:27.32,6 – (New York City, 21 oktober 1979)
Marathon 2:25.41,3 – (New York City, 26 oktober 1980)
Marathon 2:25.28,7 – (Londen, 17 april 1983)
Halve marathon 1:09.57 – (Göteborg, 15 mei 1982)

Persoonlijke records
1500m: 4.00,55
1 Eng. mijl: 4.26,90
3000m: 8.31,75
15 km: 47’52
marathon: 2:24.54
van: Losse Veter.

Grete Waitz, the elegant, cool Norwegian who pioneered women’s distance running, fittingly became the first world marathon champion in 1983.

The former Oslo schoolteacher, who died of cancer on Tuesday at the age of 57, came to the inaugural championships in Helsinki as the overwhelming favourite after a career of unparalleled success on the road and in cross country.

Waitz more than justified her status, winning by more than three minutes and completing the final 10 km in under 33 minutes.

“I could easily have run another 10 kilometres, no trouble,” she said.

Women’s distance running is such an accepted part of the athletics calendar, as last weekend’s London and Boston marathons demonstrated, that it is salutary to recall how very different it was for most of the 20th century.

When several competitors dropped to the ground and required assistance after the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic women’s 800 metres final, the International Amateur Athletics Federation banned all women’s races longer than 200 metres for 32 years.

The then International Olympic Committee president Count Henri de Baillet-Latour spoke for the reactionaries when he declared women should not take part in the Games at all and the 800 metres was not restored until the 1960 Rome Olympics.

In 1972 the 1,500 was added at the Munich Games, in time for the 18-year-old Waitz to compete, although she did not qualify for the final.

She had run the 1,500 in the European championships in Helsinki the previous year after an active childhood during which Waitz thrived in the Norwegian outdoors culture of summer hiking and winter cross country skiing


“As children, we used to play cops and robbers, and it was from this game that I sensed for the first time that I had some running ability,” she recalled in her book World Class.

“When I was a robber, no one wanted to be the cop to chase me as I simply wore them down by continuing to run for such a long time.”

In 1974, Waitz won the 1,500 metres bronze at the European championships and was named Norway’s athlete of the year.

She set a world record of 8:46:6 in her second race over 3,000 metres but the event was not yet on the Olympic programme at the 1976 Montreal Games and Waitz was eliminated in the semi-finals of the 1,500 despite clocking a personal best.

Waitz began to train relentlessly hard during the dark Norwegian winters, including cross country skiing in her regime, and was rewarded when she won the five km race at the 1978 world cross country championships in Glasgow.

Her breakthrough came in the same year when New York marathon race director Fred Lebow invited her to compete at the height of the 1970s running boom.

Waitz, who had not previously run on the roads or in the United States or even competed in a half-marathon, set a world best of two hours 32 minutes 30 seconds despite cramping badly at the end.

She won the New York race a record nine times with two more world bests and set a fourth world best of 2:25:29 in the 1983 London event months before winning the first world title in Helsinki.

During that period, Waitz was untouchable over the cross country (where she won five world titles in all) and on the roads and she attained celebrity status in New York.

She exploded any lingering myths that women could not handle the same workloads as men, running 160 km a week in training under the guidance of her husband Jack, and headed for Los Angeles in 1984 for the first women’s Olympic marathon in the best shape of her life.

A back injury disrupted the Norwegian’s training and she admitted later she was not mentally prepared for a race won by American Joan Benoit Samuelson, who took an early lead she was not to relinquish.

Waitz won the silver in what was to be her only Olympics with injury keeping her out of the 1988 Seoul Games. Her last competitive race resulted in a fourth place finish in the 1990 New York marathon, although she came back to New York two years later to run the course with Lebow, who was dying of cancer.

“Waitz, hollow-cheeked, running tall, her long, blonde hair pulled in a ponytail behind her head, has carried women’s running into the 20th century,” wrote Michael Sandrock in his 1996 book “Running with Legends.”

“Waitz was a pioneer in all aspects of running: cross country, track and road racing, and her appeal has extended beyond just runners.

“Grete is called a “Norse national treasure” and with her wins came a new enthusiasm for staying in shape, not just in Norway but around the world.” van: Reuters.

Legendary Marathon runner Grete Waitz has been accorded with one of Norway’s highest civilian honour – Knight 1st Class of the Royal Norwegian St. Olavs Order. The award was conferred by His Majesty King Harald Vth at a ceremony in the Norwegian capital.

Waitz is only the third sportsperson ever to be bestowed with the prestigious award. Figure skater Sonia Henie and Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are the only other sportspersons to have received the award.

The nine-time New York Marathon winner has already been named as the best female cross country runner in the history of the sport by the International Athletic Association Federation in 2003.

Few female runners have as complete a resume as Waitz. She competed in all the running disciplines, from track and cross-country to road racing and marathoning – she excelled in each of them.

Prominent among the numerous honours that Grete received in a career spanning 17 years, are the silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and a gold at the World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki in 1983.

European Athletics Vice President and the President of the Norwegian Track and Field Association Svein Arne Hansen along with Nils-Jostein Helland, chairman of Sports Club Vidar were among the first to congratulate Waitz.

Grete’s husband Jack Waitz and two brothers, Arild and Jan were also present at the ceremony attended by the entire board of the Norwegian Athletics Association.

IOC Award Nomination

The Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee has nominated Grete Waitz for the 2009 IOC Women and Sport Awards. The annual awards is meant to recognize outstanding achievement and contributions made to develop, encourage and strengthen the participation of women and girls at all levels in the sports world.

Grete Waitz has influenced a generation of female athletes as an athlete and still remains the pillar of strength for all aspiring athletes. Her deeds over the last four decades have gone a long way in engendering self esteem and self confidence among women in sport and in general as well.

After retiring from competitive athletics Waitz has been active in the running community in various roles from coach to administrator. She has promoted sport among women, school children and the physically and mentally challenged with unremitting zeal.

She is the founder of the Grete Waitz Run in Oslo, an annual participatory event for women, with as many as 45 000 girls and women at start. The run has become the symbol of participatory sports for girls and women and enhanced regular training groups of female recreational runners all over the country.

Waitz has developed training programmes for people from all age groups, gender and walk of life. She has penned several books including World Class, On the Run-Exercise and Fitness for Busy People, and Run your own Marathon.

She works with training programmes for cancer prevention in the Norwegian work force, based on current research showing a correlation between inactive women and various types of cancer.

uit 2009, van:

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