Ondina Valla

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Ondina Valla
Ondina Valla.jpg
Personal information
Full name Trebisonda Valla
Nationality Italian
Born (1916-05-20)May 20, 1916
Bologna, Italy
Died 16 October 2006(2006-10-16) (aged 90)
L'Aquila, Italy
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Weight 66 kg (146 lb)
Sport
Country Italy Italy
Sport Athletics
Event(s) Sprint
Hurdling
Long jump
High jump
Club SEF Virtus Bologna
Retired 1942
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)
  • 80 m hs: 11.6 (1940)
  • 100 m: 12.5 (1935)
  • High jump: 1.56 m (1936)
  • Long jump: 5.39 m (1935)

Trebisonda (Ondina) Valla, (Bologna, 20 May 1916 – L'Aquila, 16 October 2006) was an Italian female athlete, and the first Italian woman to win an Olympic gold medal. She won it in the 80 m hurdles event at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, after establishing the new world record during the semi-final.

Biography[edit]

Born at Bologna, she was named Trebisonda - a very unusual name for the country - after the Turkish town of Trabzon (Trebisonda in Italian), which her father considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. She was the little girl of the family, born after four brothers.[1]

Ondina Valla stood out for her personality and her sports talent even as a young girl. She rivalled with Claudia Testoni at the school championships in their hometown, and they would remain opponents for the rest of their careers. Aged 13, Ondina Valla was already considered one of Italy's top athletes. The following year she became national champion and was capped for the national team.[2]

She was a versatile athlete, capable of excellent results in sprint events, hurdles races and jumps. She soon became a favorite with Italian sports fans. For the fascist government she was the ideal icon of the healthy, strong national youth. Media defined her "the sun in a smile".

Her most important achievement was the gold medal of 80 m hurdles race at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. On 5 August she won the semi-final in 11.6, a new world record. On the following day she ran the final. It was a tight race, with four athletes rushing together at the finish line. There were no doubts about Valla's victory, but a photofinish picture was needed to award the silver and bronze medals. Valla's lifelong rival, Claudia Testoni, finished fourth, without a medal. Valla and Testoni were also members of the Italian 4x100m relay tema which finished fourth.[3]

After those Olympic Games Ondina Valla was forced to limit her competitions because of back problems. However, she still continued to compete until the early 1940s.

World record[edit]

  • 80 metres hurdles: 11.6 (Germany Berlin, 5 August 1936)[4]

Achievements[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Performance Note
1936 Olympic Games Germany Berlin 1st 80 metres hurdles 11.7 Olympic record =
4th 4x100 m relay 48.7

National championships[edit]

Ondina Valla has won the Italian Athletics Championships (individual), 16 times in various specialties.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Trebisonda "Ondina" Valla: la prima donna d'oro" (in Italian). scheggedicalcio.jimdo.com. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "Ondina Valla - -Biography". sports-reference.com. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "IAAF President's Message". iaaf.org. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "1936 Olympic champion Trebisonda Valla dies at 90". european-athletics.org. Retrieved 25 October 2012. Valla, often known by her nickname Ondina or ‘Little Wave', won the 1936 Olympic Games 80m hurdles gold medal having set a world record of 11.6 in her semi-final. 
  5. ^ "ITALIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS". gbrathletics.com. Retrieved 24 October 2012. 

External links[edit]

Records
Preceded by
Germany Ruth Engelhard
80 metres hs World Record Holder
5 August 1936 - 1 August 1937
Succeeded by
United Kingdom Barbara Burke