Sin Kim-dan

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Sin Kim-dan
Chosŏn'gŭl 신금단
Hancha 辛今丹
Revised Romanization Sin Geumdan
McCune–Reischauer Sin Kŭmdan
This is a Korean name; the family name is Sin.

Sin Kim-dan or Shin Keum-dan (Korean: 신금단; romanised Sin Kim Dan in English in the 1960s) (born 30 July 1938[1]) is a North Korean former track and field athlete who competed in the 1960s in the women's 200 m, 400 m and 800 m, setting disputed world records in the latter two events.


Sin worked as a lathe operator.[2] She was separated from he father in 1950 during the Korean War; he lived in South Korea.[3] She was described as tall and long-striding.[2]

Excluding 1965, Sin was ranked in the top 10 in the world from 1959 to 1967 at 400 m,[4] and from 1960 to 1967 in 800m.[5] In October 1960, she surpassed the 400 metres world record with an unratified time of 53.0.[6] She won the 400 m at the Brothers Znamensky Memorial meeting in Lenin Stadium, Moscow, in 1961, 62, and 63.[7] At Pyongyang in 1962, she ran 400 m in 51.9 s, becoming the first woman to break the 53-second barrier and 52-second barrier.[8] Of her eight claimed world record marks, this would be the only one ratified.[9][10] A note in the 1964 British Athletics yearbook states, "The IAAF are withholding recognition of a time of 53.1 by Betty Cuthbert on 11.3.63 pending investigation of Sin Kim Dan's 51.9; meanwhile there is no official world record."[11]

Sin represented North Korea at the GANEFO (Games of the New Emerging Forces) in 1963 and 1966, winning gold in the 200 m, 400 m, and 800 m at both games.[12] Her 1963 times of 51.4 (400 m) and 1:59.1 (800 m) bettered the world records, the latter the first woman under 2 minutes.[13] They were never ratified by the IAAF, however, as GANEFO was not an approved competition.[14]

Sin's personal bests were set in 1964 in Pyongyang, at 51.2 for 400 m and 1:58.0 for 800 m.[1][14] The IAAF suspended GANEFO competitors, effectively barring Sin from the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.[3][15] Sin was reunited with her father at Haneda Airport for a few minutes before being turned back from Japan.[3] Ann Packer won the Olympic 800 m in a new official world record of 2.01.1.[16]

In 1966, Time magazine stated in an article on the introduction of gender verification in sports:[17]

Finally there was Sin Kim Dan, a delicate little North Korean lass who broke the women's records at both 400 meters and 800 meters two years ago; some time later, an overjoyed elderly gentleman in South Korea recognized Sin as the son he had lost in the war.

This claim has been repeated since.[18][19]

Sin was one of the first awarded the title "People's Athlete" after its creation in 1966 by the Supreme People's Assembly.[20]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Derun, P. "Training Experiment of Sin Kim Dan". Track Technique—The Journal of Technical Track & Field Athletics (48). 


  1. ^ a b "Shin Keum-Dan". Biographies. IAAF. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  2. ^ a b ".". Comment: Communist fortnightly review (London: Central Books) 2: 270. 
  3. ^ a b c "Japan". Asian recorder. K. K. Thomas at Recorder Press. 1964. p. 6161. 
  4. ^ "World Rankings — Women’s 400". Track and Field News. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "World Rankings — Women’s 800". Track and Field News. 2011. p. 2. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Associated Press (25 October 1960). "Reds claim record". Palm Beach Post. p. 15. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (1 July 1963). "American, Frenchmen star in Moscow meet". Schenectady Gazette. p. 17. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "400 m Women Landmarks". IAAF. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Progression of Official World Records: Women". 12th IAAF World Championships In Athletics: IAAF Statistics Handbook. Berlin 2009. Lausanne: IAAF. 2009-07-06. p. 641. 
  10. ^ Matthews, Peter (2012-04-30). "Korea, Democratic People's Republic Of". Historical Dictionary of Track and Field. Scarecrow Press. p. 126. ISBN 9780810867819. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  11. ^ National Union of Track Statisticians; British Amateur Athletic Board (1964). British athletics. p. 10. 
  12. ^ "GANEFO Games". Athletics Weekly. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  13. ^ "800 m - Women Landmarks". IAAF. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "November 12 down the years". On This Day. ESPN. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  15. ^ The Canadian Press (3 October 1964). "Korean speedster out due to Games ban". The Calgary Herald. p. 14. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  16. ^ Nakrani, Sachin (4 May 2012). "No 27: Ann Packer wins 800m in 1964". 50 stunning Olympic moments. London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  17. ^ "Track & Field: Preserving la Difference". Time. 16 September 1966. Archived from the original on 2008-06-12. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  18. ^ "If a man has a sex change, can he compete in the Olympics as a woman?". The Straight Dope. 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  19. ^ Schaffer, Kay; Smith, Sidonie (2000-08-01). "One Chromosome Too Many?". The Olympics at the Millennium: Power, Politics, and the Games. Rutgers University Press. p. 146. ISBN 9780813528205. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  20. ^ Yŏnhap Tʻongsin (2003). North Korea Handbook. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 495–496. ISBN 9780765610041. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 

External links[edit]

Articles on Kim-dan meeting her father at the Tokyo Olympics
Photographs of Sin