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Colette Besson

French athlete Colette Besson was born on April 7, 1946. At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, she won a gold medal in the 400-meter dash.

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, Britain'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.

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. A repeat occurred later in the same tournament, when Besson, anchoring the French 4 x 400 m relay team, passed the finish at the same moment as 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 Munich, but was eliminated in the preliminaries, although she took fourth place in the relay.



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