Multiple World record breaking long distance runner Grete Waitz of Norway, the inaugural women’s World marathon champion in 1983 and Olympic silver medallist in 1984 was honoured yesterday in the Norwegian capital by the New York marathon the race she won on nine occasions between 1978 and 1988.
On Wednesday 24, New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg hosted a luncheon in Oslo, Norway, at the historic Bislett Stadium to honour and salute Grete Waitz, marking the 30th anniversary of the first of her nine New York City Marathon crowns.
Prior to the luncheon, Wittenberg joined Grete and her husband, Jack, in meeting with the Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang, in his private office, which overlooks the harbour and serves as the start and finish for the approximately 7000 runners who will compete in the Oslo Marathon this Sunday (28).
A full house of national journalists, friends and family, including Waitz’s two brothers, Arild and Jan, were in the room at the stadium, where a life-sized statue of Grete stands out in front of the main entrance.
When Wittenberg presented Waitz with the finisher medal for this year’s ING New York City Marathon, which features a likeness of Waitz on the front and the inscription, “Grete Waitz, the Greatest New York City Marathon Champion” on the back, she was truly touched by the gesture.
“There are a few in sports who have been game changers, and Grete changed the sport,” Wittenberg said. “She might have been slight in size, but she was huge in stature. There have been 52 winners of the New York City Marathon, all of them great and deserving winners, but Grete is a champion of champions. Years after she has put away her racing shoes, Grete is the gift that keeps on giving to all of us now.”
“On celebrating 30 years since my first victory, I am very happy that you have done this in my hometown with all of my friends and family,” Waitz said. “Looking back at that first win, it seems like it was just last week.”
Sara Hunninghake – NYRR – for the IAAF