Friday, June 1, 2012

Gayle Olinekova: Powerful Beauty Found

I've been searching for this image, of a female runner with extraordinarily powerful legs, for quite some time, but could never come up with just the right computer search terms to locate it.

I initially considered Grete Waitz, because I thought "marathon," but no.  Then I tried various combinations of key words, believing that the image was from the 1980s, but had no luck.  At one point I thought that Annie Leibovitz might have been the photographer and felt myself growing warm, but twas another dead end. 

A computer search of Olympic female sprinters who won medals in the 1970s and 1980s?  Some promising European names were on the list--how Inge and Lyudmilla started to ring ferocious bells--but no, again.

Then tonight I typed in "Helmut Newton woman running beach" and my heart started to beat, because of course it was he who had photographed the gorgeous Gayle Olinekova, who was, of all nationalities, a Canadian(!) who transplanted to California, where Mr. Newton took her photograph (below): 

Olinekova (born Olinek) initially ran the 400-meter before becoming a marathoner  Her runner's legs were everything I aspired toward in my teen years, with their balance of muscularity and femininity. And these photos, from around 1981, taken when I was in Grade 10 or so, still inspire awe.


Anonymous said...

I remember you asking for help finding this image. I'm glad you found it!

Pete McCallum said...

It originally appeared in Sports Illustrated, in the June 5, 1981 issue The lengthy article on Ms. Olinekova (then Olinek) was titled "The Greatest Legs to Ever Stride the Earth," which may have constituted belaboring the obvious,since the photo led the article. It's available on line if you'd like to read it. Ms. Olinek had a sharp intellect (and tongue) to go with her legs.
-Pete (from BC)

Pete McCallum said...

There's an error in my previous post, for which I apologize. The Sports Illustrated issue with the feature article on Gayle Olinek was January 5, '81, not June.


Anonymous said...

I was just thinking of this picture as I too remember it from when I was in high school. I decided to do a search to see if I could find Gail's picture. I remembered her name so it was easy to find your post. I am so glad you did the leg work to locate the pictures as I was inspired by her as well. Having done the search I was sad to see she had passed and passed at such a young age.

Breathebeast said...

I had the same trouble! My mother bought me her book, Go For It! when I was about 10, and I adored Olinekova for being a female role model I could be inspired by. When I first rediscovered her name a few years ago, there was only one picture I could find on the internet - I'm so glad her presence is growing stronger. I want to share her with my own daughter! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I bought her book "Go For It" while in college in the 80's. It's been in storage, then on the bookshelf for 30 + years. I've been recovering from fluoroquinolone antibiotic (Avelox and cipro) poisoning and trying to recondition my muscles, so I pulled her book down this morning and started re-reading. She was ahead of her time, talking about "the law of attraction" before it was hip and the importance of nutrition. Got online to see what this powerhouse of a person is up to now, and discovered she had died. My mom and aunt also were claimed by cancer. I want to help find The Cure, and I will endeavor to persevere in their absences.