French Olympic great Besson dies from cancer

9th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 9 (AFP) - France's former Olympic 400 metres champion Colette Besson died from cancer on Tuesday aged 59, her husband said.

PARIS, Aug 9 (AFP) - France's former Olympic 400 metres champion Colette Besson died from cancer on Tuesday aged 59, her husband said.

Besson's crowning moment came at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City when she produced a tremendous home straight in the final of the 400 metres to pip British star and race favourite Lillian Board.

Board died in 1970 also from cancer.

The following year in 1969, Besson broke the 400 metres world record at the European Championships in Athens timing 51.70secs - the same as compatriot Nicole Duclos.

But in a photo finish Duclos was given the gold medal and Besson had to settle for the silver

Besson attempted to defend her Olympic title at Munich in 1972, but failed to make it past the heats and she retired from competitive athletics in 1977.

She continued to play an active role in the administration of French athletics and from 2002 she had been chairman of the board running the French anti-doping laboratory at Chatenay-Malabry outside Paris.

"Colette made her mark in the annals of French sport and also on the international stage," said Michel Jazy, the French middle-distance runner who was among the best in the world in the 1960s.

"We were in the same French team together. I was nearing the end of my career and she was just 18 years old and was so ambitious, " said Jazy. "She wanted to achieve so much in sports and she did it in becoming Olympic champion in Mexico. I remember her triumph so well. It moved us all to tears, even General de Gaulle."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Besson, obituaries

0 Comments To This Article