| Event type

400 metres, Women

Date14 – 16 October 1968
LocationEstadio Olímpico Universitario, Ciudad de México
Participants29 from 21 countries
Olympic Record 52.0 / Betty Cuthbert AUS / 17 October 1964

Great Britain’s Lillian Board was favored based on fast times early in the year. The lead in the final was taken by Jarvis Scott (USA) but she faded at 300 metres and Board took over. In the last 20 metres, France’s Colette Besson pulled up to win the gold medal with Board second. Besson was completely unheralded prior to the competition, but would place second in the 400 at the 1969 European Championships. Britain’s press was somewhat critical of Board, but later had cause to regret that. Within 18 months of the 1968 Olympics, she was diagnosed with cancer and died in December 1970, when she was only 22.

Another story concerned Dutch athlete Lia Hinten-Louer. The former pentathlete had concentrated on the 400 m since the Tokyo Games and she flew to Mexico ranked fourth in the world having recently broken the national record. She felt unwell on arrival and, after visiting a doctor, discovered she was 10 weeks pregnant. Hinten-Louer withdrew from the Games and immediately retired from the sport.

1117Colette BessonFRA53.1 (1 h1)53.6 (2 h1)52.0 (1)Gold
2126Lillian BoardGBR52.9 (2 h2)52.5 (1 h2)52.1 (2)Silver
3238Nataliya PechenkinaURS53.7 (1 h4)52.8 (3 h2)52.2 (3)Bronze
4141Janet SimpsonGBR53.6 (3 h3)54.0 (3 h1)52.5 (4)
569Aurelia PentónCUB52.8 (1 h2)54.0 (4 h1)52.7 (5)
6102Jarvis ScottUSA53.5 (2 h1)53.2 (4 h2)52.7 (6)
75Helga HenningFRG53.5 (3 h1)53.3 (1 h1)52.8 (7)
8154Mirna van der Hoeven-JansenNED53.1 (1 h3)52.6 (2 h2)53.0 (8)
5 h1 r2/3104Esther StroyUSA53.5 (2 h3)54.3 (5 h1)
5 h2 r2/3127Mary GreenGBR53.9 (2 h4)53.6 (5 h2)
6 h1 r2/3180Una MorrisJAM54.1 (4 h2)54.6 (6 h1)
6 h2 r2/3219Karin WallgrenSWE54.2 (3 h4)53.9 (6 h2)
7 h1 r2/3249Ingrīda VerbeleURS54.0 (3 h2)54.6 (7 h1)
7 h2 r2/3122Monique NoirotFRA53.6 (4 h3)54.2 (7 h2)
8 h1 r2/356Joan FisherCAN54.6 (4 h1)55.2 (8 h1)
8 h2 r2/391Lois DrinkwaterUSA54.5 (4 h4)57.3 (8 h2)
5 h1 r1/3185Enriqueta BasilioMEX55.6 (5 h1)
5 h2 r1/3Anne CovellCAN54.3 (5 h2)
5 h3 r1/3Tekla ChemabwaiKEN54.0 (5 h3)
5 h4 r1/3Donata GovoniITA54.7 (5 h4)
6 h1 r1/332Joyce BennettAUS56.5 (6 h1)
6 h2 r1/3Anna ChmelkováTCH54.9 (6 h2)
6 h3 r1/3Sandra BrownAUS55.4 (6 h3)
6 h4 r1/3112Eeva HaimiFIN55.0 (6 h4)
7 h2 r1/3Antónia MunkácsiHUN55.6 (7 h2)
7 h3 r1/3171Channa ShezifiISR56.3 (7 h3)
7 h4 r1/3252Josefa VicentURU56.3 (7 h4)
8 h2 r1/364Jean RobothamCRC58.2 (8 h2)
8 h4 r1/3193Olajumoke BodunrinNGR57.0 (8 h4)

Round One (14 October 1968 — 10:40)

Top four in each heat advanced to the semi-finals.

Heat #1

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
14Colette BessonFRA53.153.11Q
22Jarvis ScottUSA53.553.53Q
33Helga HenningFRG53.553.58Q
46Joan FisherCAN54.654.62Q
55Enriqueta BasilioMEX55.655.47
61Joyce BennettAUS56.556.56

Heat #2

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
11Aurelia PentónCUB52.852.86Q
28Lillian BoardGBR52.953.00Q
36Ingrīda VerbeleURS54.054.07Q
45Una MorrisJAM54.154.19Q
52Anne CovellCAN54.354.34
63Anna ChmelkováTCH54.954.91
77Antónia MunkácsiHUN55.655.61
84Jean RobothamCRC58.258.25

Heat #3

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
17Mirna van der Hoeven-JansenNED53.153.17Q
25Esther StroyUSA53.553.58Q
33Janet SimpsonGBR53.653.63Q
44Monique NoirotFRA53.653.67Q
56Tekla ChemabwaiKEN54.054.05
62Sandra BrownAUS55.455.43
71Channa ShezifiISR56.356.38

Heat #4

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
13Nataliya PechenkinaURS53.753.73Q
22Mary GreenGBR53.954.00Q
38Karin WallgrenSWE54.254.30Q
46Lois DrinkwaterUSA54.554.56Q
57Donata GovoniITA54.754.77
64Eeva HaimiFIN55.055.01
75Josefa VicentURU56.356.34
81Olajumoke BodunrinNGR57.057.09

Semi-Finals (15 October 1968 — 15:20)

Top four in each heat advanced to the final.

Heat #1

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
12Helga HenningFRG53.353.33Q
24Colette BessonFRA53.653.62Q
33Janet SimpsonGBR54.054.01Q
47Aurelia PentónCUB54.054.08Q
58Esther StroyUSA54.354.35
66Una MorrisJAM54.654.63
75Ingrīda VerbeleURS54.654.67
81Joan FisherCAN55.255.37

Heat #2

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
16Lillian BoardGBR52.552.56Q
27Mirna van der Hoeven-JansenNED52.652.69Q
35Nataliya PechenkinaURS52.852.83Q
42Jarvis ScottUSA53.253.22Q
54Mary GreenGBR53.653.64
68Karin WallgrenSWE53.953.93
73Monique NoirotFRA54.254.30
81Lois DrinkwaterUSA57.357.39

Final (16 October 1968 — 17:00)

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
15Colette BessonFRA52.052.03=OR
21Lillian BoardGBR52.152.12
38Nataliya PechenkinaURS52.252.25
47Janet SimpsonGBR52.552.57
52Aurelia PentónCUB52.752.75
64Jarvis ScottUSA52.752.79
73Helga HenningFRG52.852.89
86Mirna van der Hoeven-JansenNED53.053.02