Radke earns Germany's first athletics gold
The Summer Olympics have seen some controversial races down the years but few that had the repercussions of the women’s 800m in the Amsterdam Games of 1928.
The race itself was an entertaining affair but the reaction to the sight of exhausted female runners prompted organisers to halt women running in races more than 200m for the next 32 years. The 25-woman field was whittled down to nine for the final with German Marie Dollinger among the favourites after setting a new Olympic record in her heat.
The final, again played out in front of a capacity crowd in the Olympic Stadium, saw some extraordinary tactics with runners taking it in turns to surge into the lead. The 25-year-old German Lina Radke made what proved to be a decisive move down the back straight and as the field entered the final bend she had a healthy eight-yard lead.
Radke, who was coached by her husband, checked behind her several times and comfortably held off a late charge from Japan’s Kinue Hitomi with Swede Inga Gentzel in third. It was a new world record of two minutes 16.8 secs, but it would be the signs of exhaustion shown by some of her rivals that would dominate the headlines.
Opponents of the feminist movement said the distance race tested the endurance of women too far, with some newspapers even suggesting such exertion would speed up the onset of ageing. The IAAF removed the 800m from the Olympic schedule and it would not return until Russia’s Lyudmila Shevtsova won the race at the 1960 Games in Rome.