On this day in 1972, Northern Ireland’s Mary Peters pipped West Germany’s Heidi Rosendahl to the gold medal in the pentathlon at the Munich Olympics.

Peters made the ideal start in the opening event, equalling her personal best in the 100 metre hurdles, before winning the shot put with a best of 16.20m to move into a lead she would never relinquish.

After also winning the high jump with a clearance of 1.82m, Peters held a 301-point lead at the end of the first day and looked assured of victory.

However, Peters knew that the last two events – the long jump and 200m – were Rosendahl’s best and her own weakest and the West German, who had already won the individual long jump title, duly leapt 6.83m, just a centimetre short of her own world record.

Peters could not even get past the 6m barrier and saw her lead slashed to 47 points ahead of the final event, which Rosendahl won as expected.

Peters, who finished fourth in the final heat and sixth overall, faced an anxious wait while the final totals were calculated and confirmed she had won by just 10 points, setting a new world record in the process.


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