Sanderstead Olympian, 92, to fire starting gun at London Marathon
AN ATHLETE who made Olympic history in the hate-filled atmosphere of Hitler's backyard will be firing the starting gun at the London Marathon.
High-jumper Dorothy Tyler, who won two silver medals and participated in four Games, will officially start next Sunday's race.
The 92-year-old, who lives in Sanderstead, said: "I still love athletics and look forward to starting the London Marathon.
"It's nice to still be involved even though I'm 92."
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Mrs Tyler, who was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009, is a quadruple Olympian after participating in the 1936, 48, 52 and 56 Games.
She won her first silver medal at the tender age of 16 at the controversial 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, held under the cloud of the reigning Nazi party.
Mrs Tyler also won a silver medal at the 1948 London Olympics, making her the only woman to win Olympic athletic medals before and after the Second World War.
Now that the Games are coming back to London, memories are flooding back for Mrs Tyler.
But she admits she yearns for the day high-jumpers adopted the traditional 'scissors' technique, rather than the modern-day Fosbury Flop, a backwards-style pioneered by American athlete Dick Fosbury.
Mrs Tyler said: "I wish I was younger again but all the rules have changed now.
"Back then all the women were separated from the men and the jump techniques were different."
She added: "I am very pleased the Olympics are finally coming back here.
"I have been given two free tickets to see the high jump so that's exciting, but I will make sure I watch everything else on the television."
Mrs Tyler's years as an Olympian saw her equal the world record in 1936, although it was never officially ratified.
She then broke it by clearing 1.66 metres three years later.
By the time she had won her second medal Mrs Tyler had already given birth to two children, but she still managed to make a comeback.
After her high-jumping career ended she became a coach, as well as taking up golf, where she won the national over-80's title three times.
"I was 11 when I started to high jump," she said.
"I went in to the secondary school hall one day and saw a rope and some high jump stands.
"My sports mistress told me to jump so I did and I just kept doing it. Every high jump I saw, I jumped it."
Mike Fleet, another former athlete and celebrated Croydon athletics coach, is helping Mrs Tyler write a book about her years as an Olympian.
He said: "I'm delighted for her.
"It's nice to see former athletes that are from the area being celebrated for their talents.
"She's a very interesting lady and was a much focused athlete.
"She was one of the best scissor-jumpers of her time."