100 Olympic Tidbits: Mary Peters Wins Pentathlon

Mary Peters won only one Olympic gold – in the pentathlon in the 1972 Munich Olympics – but it was one that was filled with drama.

First off, Peters was already 33 years old in 1972, and had finished a disappointing ninth place in the same event in Mexico four years earlier. So she was hardly a favorite to win the gold. Secondly, Peters was from Northern Ireland, which was still reeling from a series of bombings by the IRA that shook Belfast to its core.

After she won the gold, setting an Olympic record in the process, a death threat was phoned in to the BBC by a man with an Irish accent: “Mary Peters is a protestant and has won a medal for Britain. An attempt will be made on her life and it will be blamed on the IRA ... Her home will be going up in the near future.” Peters shrugged off the death threat and returned to Belfast to a hero’s welcome, although was unable to live in her flat for three months.

Peters’ win united, however briefly, Northern Ireland’s divided populace and brought much-needed smiles to the faces of her countrymen.

Editor's Note: To celebrate the 100-day countdown to the London Games, we will be publishing 100 tidbits about the Olympics. Come back to Yahoo! PH Sports, as we publish a new tidbit every day.


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