Ondina Valla, 90; Hurdler Was the First Woman From Italy to Win an Olympic Gold Medal

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Ondina Valla, 90, the 80-meter hurdle champion at the 1936 Summer Games and the first Italian woman to win an Olympic gold medal, died Monday in her hometown of L’Aquila, the Italian Olympic Committee said. No cause of death was given.

Valla tied a world record when she ran the 80-meter hurdles -- no longer an Olympic event -- in 11.6 seconds in the semifinals at the Berlin Games. Because of a new rule against wind-aided times that was approved during the Games, it was recognized as an Olympic record but not a world record. Valla then won the final in 11.7 seconds in a photo finish.

Born Trebisonda Valla in Bologna on May 20, 1916, she also set 21 Italian records during her career.