Yvette Williams competed in the women’s long jump at the 1952 Olympic Games, winning gold.
New Zealand’s first female Olympic gold medallist, former long jump world recordholder Yvette Williams has died.
Williams, who as Yvette Corlett, won the women’s long jump at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games died on Saturday night, age 89.
President of Auckland Athletics Murray McKinnon confirmed the multi-talented athlete had died “of old age”.
While the most significant thing in her career was being the first women to win Olympic gold, her influence reached far beyond that, McKinnon said.
She took a big interest in the career of Olympic champion shot putter Dame Valerie Adams, he said.
“She was a gracious lady. She kept in touch with Valerie Adams right from the early days, and contacted her every time she won something.”
She set up an athletics club in the eastern suburbs of Auckland, where the Yvette Williams Track is to be found.
Analytical Wellington sports writer Peter Heidenstrom controversially rated Williams as his New Zealand Athlete of the Century, ahead of the great Peter Snell, who won three Olympics golds across two Games.
Competing at a time when there were fewer athletics events for women, Williams shone in most. In the modern era she would have been a world class heptathlete.