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Grete Waitz

Wins Silver In Los Angeles Olympics

In 1984, Waitz went to the Los Angeles Olympics. That year was the first that women were allowed to compete in the marathon. Previously many observers believed the event was too grueling for women to complete, but in the preceding 15 years women, including Waitz, had proved this prejudice wrong by performing strongly in non-Olympic marathons. Waitz was expected to win, but came in second to Joan Benoit Samuelson, winning a silver medal. Waitz did not make excuses for coming in second, but praised Benoit for her excellent race. She was relieved to have finally won an Olympic medal: now the pressure for her to win one for Norway was gone.

Waitz ran in the 1988 Olympic Marathon in Seoul, Korea but did not finish the race, hampered by knee surgery she had undergone before the race. Later that year, however, she made a comeback, winning the New York City Marathon for the ninth time. "Everything feels good," she said before the race, according to Marc Bloom in Runner's World. American runner Joan Benoit Samuelson, who came in third, told Bloom, "Losing to Grete is an honor. She owns New York." In 1990, Waitz retired from competition to devote her time to serving as a spokesperson for women's sports.

Awards and Accomplishments

1975 World record, 3000 meters, 8:46.6
1976 World record, 3000 meters, 8:45.4
1978 Winner, New York City Marathon
1978 World record, marathon, 2:32.30
1978 World cross-country champion
1979 World record, 10 miles, 53:05
1979 Winner, New York City Marathon
1979 World record, marathon, 2:27.33
1980 World record, 10K, 31:00
1980 Winner, New York City Marathon
1980 World record, marathon, 2:25.41
1981 World cross-country champion
1982 Winner, New York City Marathon
1983 Winner, New York City Marathon
1983 World record, marathon, 2:25.29
1983 Winner, world marathon championships
1983 World cross-country champion
1984 Winner, New York City Marathon
1984 World record, 15K, 47:53
1984 Silver medal, marathon, Los Angeles Olympics
1985 Winner, New York City Marathon
1986 Winner, New York City Marathon
1986 World record, 8K, 25:03
1988 Winner, New York City Marathon
2000 Inducted into Distance Running Hall of Fame

Since retiring from competition, Waitz has used her ability to help others who have difficulty in running. In 1992, Waitz ran the New York City Marathon with Fred Lebow, who was suffering from brain cancer. Because of his illness, he could only run very slowly, and the two took 5 hours, 32 minutes and 34 seconds to complete the course; when they finished, Waitz cried, knowing that Lebow's condition was terminal and it was the last time she would run with him. In 1993, Waitz waited at the finish line for runner Zoe Koplowitz, who had multiple sclerosis, to finish the course. Koplowitz took 24 hours to complete the marathon distance. Waitz wrote in First Marathons, "No one had a medal for her, so I rushed back to my hotel to get my husband's medal for her." In 1991, Waitz was named Female Runner of the Quarter Century by Runner's World magazine.

In First Marathons, Waitz wrote, "I prefer to train in the dark, cold winter months when it takes a stern attitude to get out of bed before dawn and head out the door to below-freezing weather conditions. Anyone can run on a nice, warm, brisk day."

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsMarathonsGrete Waitz Biography - A Norwegian Tradition, Competes In 1972 Olympics, Competes In 1976 Olympics, Wins New York City Marathon - CONTACT INFORMATION