WARSAW (Reuters) - Irena Szewinska, Poland’s most decorated Olympian with seven medals across five track and field events, died aged 72 on Friday night, the Polish Olympic Committee (POC) said.
A five-time Olympian, Szewinska won golds in 4x100m at the 1964 Tokyo Games, in 200m at Mexico City four years later and in 400m in Montreal in 1976.
She competed at her last three Olympics in 1972, 1976 and 1980 as a mom.
“Irena died at about 23.30 in Warsaw. She had been fighting illness for a long time but she felt good. Not long ago she was at the Olympic Picnic,” Polish state-run news agency PAP quoted Szewinska’s husband as saying on Saturday.
Szewinska broke 10 world records and was the only athlete, male or female, to hold world records in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 400 metres sprint, the committee said.
“I am shocked and saddened about the loss of our dear Olympic friend Irena Szewinska,” International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said in a statement.
“With her gentleness and modesty, she was a real role model dedicating her whole life to sport. As such she was inspiring athletes and women around the world.”
Bach has asked to lower the Olympic flag at the IOC headquarters in Switzerland for three days.
Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Anna Koper; editing by Amlan Chakraborty