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December 5, 2020
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Legendary athlete Iolanda Balas in the IAAF Hall of Fame

During the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) Centenary Gala Show which took place Saturday in Barcelona’s Palau Nacional, the IAAF Hall of Fame was officially inaugurated with the induction of the 24 first members, according to iaaf.org. President Diack presented trophies to the 13 legends Iolanda  Balas (last on the right ), Sergey Bubka, Sebastian Coe, Betty Cuthbert, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Alberto Juantorena, Wang Junxia, Kipchoge Keino, Stefka Kostadinova, Edwin Moses, Dan O’Brien, Peter Snell, and Irena Szewinska.Romanian athlete Iolanda Balas set the first of her 14 World records as a 19-year-old in the summer of 1956 when she cleared 1.75m but could only finish fifth at the Olympic Games later in the year when they were held in Melbourne. However, in 1957, she started a winning streak of 140 competitions that was to last just over a decade despite an unsophisticated technique that was little more than a slightly modified ‘scissors’ jump. In 1958, she cleared 1.83m and so became the first woman to clear the psychologically and historically significant barrier of six feet in imperial measurement. That summer she took what would be the first of two European titles during her career.She triumphed at the 1960 Olympics, going over an Olympic record of 1.85m, which was just one centimetre short of her then World record. Her nearest rivals in Rome could only clear 1.71m, giving Balas the greatest winning margin in an Olympic or World Championships women’s High Jump contest and a statistic that is unlikely to be improved upon any time soon.In 1961, she improved her World record on four more occasions, culminating in a clearance of 1.91m in Sofia on 16 July, which was to remain unbeaten until 1971.Her second Olympic gold medal came at the 1964 Games in Tokyo, where she had a flawless competition up to and including her winning height of 1.90m before she had three unsuccessful attempts at a new World record of 1.92m. The illustrious American magazine Track and Field News voted Balas as the best female high jumper of the 20th century in 2000 and there is little doubt that her achievements merited such an accolade.

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