Anna Larsson, a farmer’s daughter also called Nora-Anna, was a 800 meter world record holder at a time when world wars and out-dated views on female athletes stopped her from receiving the great sporting recognition she actually deserved. During her sporting career, the longest Olympic distance for women was 200 meters, which meant she didn’t get a place at the 1948 Olympics.
Anna was discovered during the national competition Riksmarschen in 1943, where she was persuaded to compete in the Swedish Championships. In her first competition, Anna won the 800 meters by eight seconds! On the 30th of August 1945, the atmosphere at the Stockholm Stadium was ecstatic as Nora-Anna broke her third world record in the 800 meters with a time of 2:13.8.
She became the first woman to do a lap of honour at the Olympic arena. She held the world record for five years, and it took a full 19 years before a Swedish runner managed to beat Nora-Anna’s time.
Thanks to her sunny personality and beautiful running style, she became a national hero. One newspaper called her ”the whole stadium’s little fiancée”. Sweden’s first female running star retired in 1949 and returned to the tribulations of agriculture.