At the age of only 72, the greatest runner in world sports and a distinguished member of the International Olympic Committee has passed away.
Irene Szewinska took part in 5 successive Olympic Games, from Mexico in 1964 to Moscow in 1980.
She won 7 Olympic medals (3 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze) and 16 European medals, at both indoor and outdoor athletics (9 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze).
She was ranked Νο. 1 in the world 7 times for the 200 metres, 4 times for the 400 metres, twice for the 100 metres and 3 times for the long-jump.
Between 1965 and 1979, she broke 6 world records and was the only athlete (male or female) to have held a world record in the 100m, 200m and the 400m events!
Irene Szewinska was a great lover of Olympism and Ancient Olympia as well as the International Olympic Academy. She attended many of the IOA’s educational events, at which she spoke with passion about sport, recounting her experiences and expressing her life-long affection for young athletes. In 2010, the IOA honoured her on the Hill of the Pnyx for her contribution to the mission of disseminating the Olympic Values and Olympic Education.
The President of the IOA, Mr Isidoros Kouvelos, upon hearing the news of her death, announced: “It is certain that from today world sport is the poorer. Our great friend Irene brought unforgettable moments to sport. She was not only a great athlete, but also one of the best role-models for a healthy athlete! A true Role Model, both in her athletic career and her everyday life! All of us at the IOA will miss her so very much.”
Irene Szewinska herself, in a piece she wrote on the 50th anniversary of the IOA, stated: “The educational activities of the IOA, aimed at the promotion of friendship and tolerance among young people through the ethical and cultural aspects of the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games, are invaluable. I am deeply convinced that everyone who has been to this place for the first time will wish to return.”