Friday, April 22, 2011

Grete Waitz: Legendary Athlete, Role Model

I was sorry to hear of the passing of Norwegian runner Grete Waitz this week. In the November 2010 issue of Viking, Åge Dalby of the Norwegian Olympic Museum calls Waitz the most influential long-distance female runner of all time. In addition to winning the title of marathon world champion in 1983 and a silver medal at the 84' Olympics, she won the New York City marathon an astounding nine times.

In Norway, Waitz's accomplishments made her a hero. Her statue, pictured here, stands outside Bislett Stadium in Oslo and a Norwegian postage stamp was issued in her honor in 1997.

But while Waitz became famous for her athletic prowess, she also will be remembered as a role model to a generation of female runners. She was a spokesperson for corporate health and wellness and organizations such as CARE International, the Special Olympics, and Aktiv mot Kreft (Active Against Cancert), the foundation she started in 2007.

To learn more about Grete Waitz and nine other great Norwegian athletes, check out "10 Athletes Who Shaped a Nation" in the November 2010 issue of Viking.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickruser aktivioslo.

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