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Colette Besson (April 7, 1946 in Saint-Georges-de-Didonnemarker (Charente-Maritime) – August 9, 2005 in La Rochellemarker) was a former Frenchmarker athlete, the surprise winner of the 400 m at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico Citymarker.

Prior to the 1968 Olympics, Besson was virtually unknown, and the fact that she qualified for the 400 m could already be considered a surprise. In the final, Britainmarker's Lillian Board - the favourite for the gold - was way ahead of the rest of the field with just 100 m to go. With an amazing last sprint, Besson then moved up from fifth place to beat Board on the finish line by a tenth of a second. Her winning time of 52.03 seconds was 1.8 seconds better than her personal best.

The next year, Besson came close to winning another international title at the European Championships. In the 400 m final, she crossed the line almost level with her team mate Nicole Duclos, both in the world record time of 51.7. However, Duclos was awarded the victory after examination of the finish photo. Besson and Duclos also set a new world record in the 4x400m women's relay in the same championships. In the 4x400 women's relay final, Besson, who was anchoring the French 4 x 400 m relay team, passed the finish line at the same moment as Lillian Board. Again, photo finish evidence determined Besson had come second.

After 1969, Besson would not win any more international medals. She qualified for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munichmarker, but was eliminated in the preliminaries, although she took fourth place in the relay. She retired from athletics in 1977.

Besson died on Aug 9, 2005 of throat cancer [62997], two years after being diagnosed with the disease. She was survived by her husband Jean-Pierre Muller and their two daughters, Sandrine and Stéphanie.

External links

  • [62998]Daily Telegraph 11/08/2005

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