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Yvette Williams sets world long jump record

20 February 1954

Yvette Williams at Helsinki
Yvette Williams at Helsinki (NZ Herald/

The jump that won Yvette Williams a gold medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics was only 1 cm short of the world record held by Francine (‘Fanny’) Blankers-Koen of The Netherlands.

Williams, like Blankers-Koen, was a versatile athlete, competing successfully in the long jump and high jump, and a range of track events.

Williams broke Blankers-Koen’s long jump record 18 months after the Helsinki Olympics at an athletics meeting in Gisborne. Her world record of 20 feet 7½ inches (6.29 m) stood for another 18 months.

In 1999 Blankers-Koen was voted ‘Female Athlete of the Century’ by the International Association of Athletics Federations. Local athletics historian Peter Heidenstrom chose Williams as his ‘New Zealand Athlete of the Century’. Dame Yvette Corlett (as she now was) was honoured shortly before her death in 2019.

How to cite this page

Yvette Williams sets world long jump record, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated