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 her 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]

International competition[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
1963 GANEFO Jakarta, Indonesia 1st 200 metres
1st 400 metres
1st 800 metres
1966 GANEFO Phnom Penh, Cambodia 1st 200 metres
1st 400 metres
1st 800 metres

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" (PDF). Track and Field News. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "World Rankings — Women's 800" (PDF). 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 (PDF). 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