The next day was torture for Fanny. It started, characteristically, with a gray, rainy dawn. At her mailbox, where yesterday she had found a lonesome message from her children, today Fanny found nothing at all. Ahead lay the everlasting heats and semifinals of the 200 meters, at that time the longest race for women in the Games. Mrs. Blankers rallied and won beautifully, she thought, but her time, when announced, was slow. She broke down and wept in her dressing room. Her husband was summoned. She said she'd had enough and wanted to go home. He said nothing. "If you do not want to go on," he told her at last, "you must not. But later perhaps you will be sorry."
Fanny went on. She won her semifinal that afternoon and on the following day, in rain, of course, drew the lane to her liking, inside. From there she could see her opponents strung out before her. The Briton to beat today was the army officer, Audrey Williamson. Fanny took the lead much earlier than she had planned, at mid-point, and without the zest of a chase her time was well beyond the world record of 23.6 seconds set years before by the mighty Polish runner S. Walasiewicz. The English girl, to be sure, came second. "For once," sighed The Times, which had a wryer touch then than it does now, "the greatest all-round woman athlete yet seen at an Olympic Games did not break a record." Which was reasonable, the paper pointed out, since women had never run the distance before at an Olympics.
To win her fourth gold medal, Fanny needed help from her countrymen. Her relay team was a good one, plagued with one problem: Fanny was too fast. In practice through the summer, she had been unable to break the habit of running away from her teammate at the baton exchange. Still, it was reckoned that from her anchor position Mrs. Blankers could easily make up as much as a four-yard deficit; anything less than that given to her by her teammates was money in the bank. Over the first three legs of the race in London, however, it became clear that the Dutch girls had overdrawn their account. When she was passed the stick, Mrs. Blankers was five yards behind the leaders. She tells the story with awesome simplicity: "I had to guard against sprinting away from my runner, so I was slow getting away. I overtook very quickly the Danish girl, then the English girl and at the very end I caught the Australian girl."
Back home in Amsterdam the Flying Housewife, having flown higher and faster than ever before, was drawn through the streets in an open coach behind four white horses. A candy bar was named after her (without endorsement fees) and a gladiolus and a rose. And for the next four years she continued winning prizes as the outstanding woman track-and-field athlete of her time. The holder of seven world titles and four gold medals, Fanny might well have repeated her whole act in Helsinki in 1952 at the age of 34 were it not for a silly ailment—an annoying and very painful boil that kept her out.