Image Courtesy: Google Doodle
Grete Waitz (1 October 1953 – 19 April 2011) was a Norwegian marathon runner and former world record holder. In 1979, at the New York City Marathon, she became the first woman in history to run the marathon in under two and a half hours. Waitz won nine New York City Marathons, women’s division, between 1978 and 1988, the highest number of victories in a single big city marathon in history. She won the silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and a gold medal at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki. She was also a five-time winner of the World Cross Country Championships.
Life and Career
Born on October 1, 1953, in Oslo, Norway, Waitz initially focused on gymnastics before discovering her talent for distance running in her late teens. Her career reached its zenith in the late 1970s and 1980s when she became a dominant figure in women’s marathon running.
Waitz achieved international fame by winning the New York City Marathon a record nine times between 1978 and 1988, establishing herself as one of the greatest marathon runners of all time. Her breakthrough moment came at the 1978 New York City Marathon, where she not only won but also set a world record. Her victory helped popularize women’s marathon running and played a pivotal role in the eventual inclusion of the women’s marathon in the Olympic Games.
In addition to her success in New York, Waitz also claimed gold at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki and earned a silver medal at the inaugural women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Her accomplishments transcended the track; Waitz was an inspiration to countless female athletes and runners worldwide, demonstrating that women could excel in long-distance running.
Off the track, Grete Waitz was known for her humility, sportsmanship, and dedication to promoting health and fitness. She continued to be involved in running events and charity work even after her retirement. Tragically, Waitz succumbed to cancer on April 19, 2011, but her legacy as a pioneer in women’s marathon running and her contributions to the sport continue to inspire athletes and enthusiasts globally.
Award and Legacy
Grete Waitz’s exceptional career in long-distance running was marked by numerous awards and an enduring legacy that transcended her athletic achievements. Her most notable accolades include winning the New York City Marathon a record nine times, which established her as an icon in the sport. Additionally, she earned gold at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki and a silver medal in the inaugural women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
However, Grete Waitz’s legacy extends far beyond her medals and records. Her groundbreaking victory at the 1978 New York City Marathon not only catapulted her to stardom but also played a pivotal role in popularizing women’s marathon running. Her influence was instrumental in convincing the International Olympic Committee to include the women’s marathon in the Olympic Games, a significant milestone for gender equality in sports.
Off the track, Waitz was renowned for her humility, sportsmanship, and dedication to promoting health and fitness. She continued to inspire countless female athletes and runners worldwide, proving that women could excel in long-distance running. After her retirement, she remained involved in running events and charity work, embodying the spirit of giving back to the sport that had brought her so much success. Grete Waitz’s legacy endures as a symbol of perseverance, excellence, and the transformative power of sports in breaking down barriers and inspiring generations of athletes, particularly women, to achieve their dreams.
On 1 October 2011, Google celebrated Grete Waitz with a doodle.