Grete Andersen-Waitz

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameGrete•Andersen-Waitz
Used nameGrete•Andersen-Waitz
Born1 October 1953 in Oslo (NOR)
Died19 April 2011 in Oslo (NOR)
Measurements172 cm / 53 kg
AffiliationsSK Vidar, Oslo (NOR)
NOC Norway


Grete Andersen was a very talented middle distance runner as a teenager, setting a new European junior record at 1500 m when she was only 17, and she competed in both the 1971 European Championships and the 1972 Olympics without being advancing to the finals. Her international breakthrough came in 1974, when she won the bronze medal at 1,500 m at the European Championships, and she was a semi-finalist at the distance at the 1976 Olympics. By then she had finished her education as a teacher and married her club coach Jack Waitz. In the 1978 European Championships she won another bronze medal, this time in the new event, 3,000 m. In 1975 she had broken the world record at the distance with 8:46.6 in a solo effort in Oslo.

The year 1978 marked the start of her astonishing career as a marathon runner. She was invited to run the New York Marathon by race director Fred Lebow, and after some reluctance she decided to go for it. To everybody’s surprise, she won the race, bettering the unofficial women’s best time by over 2 minutes. She won the New York Marathon nine times between 1978 and 1988, bettering the world’s best time on three more occasions. She also won London Marathon twice, in 1983 and 1986, on the last occasion with her career best of 2-24:54. In 1983 she became the first marathon World Champion at the inaugural championship in Helsinki, and followed this with her silver medal in the first women’s Olympic marathon in 1984 at Los Angeles. Waitz also won the International Cross-Country Championship five times (1978-81, 1983), a record she shares with Doris Brown.

For her remarkable career in athletics Waitz was appointed a Knight 1st Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, which she received from King Harald V of Norway in November 2008. Waitz also received the St. Olav Medal in 1981 and St. Hallvard’s Medal in 1989.

Personal Bests: 1,500 – 4:00.55 (1978); 3,000 - 8:31.75 (1979); Mar – 2-24:54 (1986).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1972 Summer Olympics Athletics NOR Grete Andersen
1,500 metres, Women (Olympic) 6 h2 r1/3
1976 Summer Olympics Athletics NOR Grete Waitz
1,500 metres, Women (Olympic) 8 h1 r2/3
1984 Summer Olympics Athletics NOR Grete Waitz
Marathon, Women (Olympic) 2 Silver
1988 Summer Olympics Athletics NOR Grete Waitz
Marathon, Women (Olympic) DNF

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1988 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony NOR Grete Andersen-Waitz

Special Notes