Iolanda Balaș

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Iolanda Balas.jpg
Personal information
Born 12 December 1936 (1936-12-12) (age 77)
Timișoara, Romania
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight 72 kg (159 lb)
Sport
Sport High jump

Iolanda Balaș (Romanian pronunciation: [joˈlanda ˈbalaʃ], later Söter, Hungarian: Balázs Jolán, born 12 December 1936) is a former Romanian athlete, Olympic champion and world record holder in high jump, who is considered one of the greatest high jumpers ever.

Early life[edit]

Balaș was born in Timișoara to ethnic Hungarian parents.[1] Her mother, Etel Bozó was a homemaker, while her father, Frigyes, was originally a locksmith, who served in the Hungarian army, before he was captured and brought to the Soviet Union and later to Hungary, where he settled in Budapest.[2] Balaș tried to reunite the family and move to Hungary, but although she managed to obtain the Hungarian passport in 1947,[1] she was not allowed to leave the country.[3] When asked in an interview in 2005, whether she was thinking about defection, she said that it came to her mind; however, that action could have resulted in serious retaliation against her relatives she would have left behind, and she did not want that.[1]

Career[edit]

After finishing fifth in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, she won two Olympic gold medals at Rome in 1960 and Tokyo in 1964. At the 1964 Olympics she competed with a torn tendon, which forced her later to withdraws from the 1966 European Championships. Nevertheless, between 1957 and 1966, Balaș won 150 consecutive competitions,[4] not including qualifying competitions or exhibitions. She improved the world record 14 times, from 1.75 m to 1.91 m, and equalled it once outdoors and once indoors. She was the first woman to jump over six feet. Her technique was a sophisticated version of the scissors technique.[5]

Her record of 1.91 m, set in 1961, lasted until the end of 1971 (beaten by Ilona Gusenbauer from Austria), when jumpers with a more efficient technique (the straddle technique, and later the Fosbury style) took over.

After retiring from competitions in 1967, Balaș married her former coach Ian Söter, and taught physical education in Bucharest. Between 1988 and 2005 she was president of the Romanian Athletics Federation.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "'Sajnálom, hogy nem Magyarországnak nyertem olimpiákat'" (in Hungarian). sportgeza.hu. 18 November 2005. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "Mélységek és magasságok" [Depths and heights] (in Hungarian). Hócipő. 6 June 2007. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "Az egyetemes magyar sport nagyjai: Balázs Jolán" [The greats of the universal Hungarian sport: Balázs Jolán] (in Hungarian). 3szek.ro. 6 December 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  4. ^ Mazdon, S.J.: "Iolanda Balas – 150 Wins In a Row", Track Stats, Vol 29 No 4, December 1991
  5. ^ a b Iolanda Balaş. Sports-reference

External links[edit]

Iolanda Balaș on 2004 Romanian stamps
Records
Preceded by
United Kingdom Thelma Hopkins
Women's High Jump World Record Holder
14 July 1956 – 1 December 1956
Succeeded by
United States Mildred McDaniel
Records
Preceded by
United States Mildred McDaniel
Women's High Jump World Record Holder
13 October 1957 – 17 November 1957
Succeeded by
China Zheng Fengrong
Records
Preceded by
China Zheng Fengrong
Women's High Jump World Record Holder
7 June 1958 – 4 September 1971
Succeeded by
Austria Ilona Gusenbauer