She is one of the greatest athletes in history with seven Olympic medals to her name from her five Olympic appearances.
On her Olympic debut in 1964, Irena Szewinska – Kirszenstein ran the second leg of Poland’s gold medal-winning team in the 4x100m after winning silver medals in the 200m and long jump.
Irena Szewinska went on to win the Olympic 200m title in 1968 and the Olympic 400m title in 1976, setting world records to win both titles. She retired after her fifth Olympic appearance in Moscow 1980 at the age of 34.
Irena Szewinska won ten medals at the European Championships across her four appearances. On her debut at the 1966 European Championships, Irena Szewinska won titles in the 200m, 4x100m and long jump and a silver medal in the 100m. She was to achieve the sprint double eight years later in Rome, defeating reigning Olympic champion Renate Stecher in both the 100m and 200m.
Irena Szewinska’s greatness is further exemplified by the fact she remains the only athlete – male or female – to have held world records in the 100m (11.20), 200m (22.58, 22.21) and 400m (49.75, 49.29) and her lifetime best in the 400m set at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal remains intact as the Polish record.
After her competitive career, Irena Szewinska held a number of influential roles within the sport both domestically and internationally. She was president of the PZLA, vice-president of the Polish Olympic Committee, a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1998 and was elected onto the IAAF Council in 2005. She has also been member of the European Athletics Council from 1995 to 2007.
She will always be in our memories.
(from EA homepage)