Yvette Williams sets world long jump record

20 February 1954

Yvette Williams at Helsinki (NZ Herald/newspix.co.nz)

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.

Like Williams, 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. The athletics historian Peter Heidenstrom chose Williams as his ‘New Zealand Athlete of the Century’.