‘First lady of Polish sport’ Irena Szewinska dies at 72

Irena Szewinska broke the world record as she won the 400 metres gold in the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

Warsaw (AFP) – Polish track star Irena Szewinska, who won Olympic gold medals in three different events, died on Friday night aged 72, her husband and former coach Janusz Szewinski said.

“Irena died around 2030 in Warsaw at the military hospital,” Szewinski told Polish news agency PAP, explaining that she had been suffering from cancer.

“She had been fighting her illness for a long time, but felt relatively well in recent days.”

“Madame Irena Szewinska has left us – the first lady of Polish sport,” tweeted Polish president Andrzej Duda.

Szewinska competed at four Olympics, winning gold with the Polish 100-metre relay team in Tokyo in 1964, in the 200m in Mexico City in 1968 and in the 400m in Montreal in 1976. 

She also won silver in the 200m and long jump in Tokyo and bronze in the 100m in Mexico City and the 200m in Munich 1972.

She is the only athlete, male or female, to have held the world record in the 100m, the 200m and the 400m.

She was a member of the International Olympic Committee from 1998.