Olympian Mary Peters surprised by rival 50 years after Munich win

Olympian Mary Peters surprised by rival 50 years after Munich win

‘Heart melted!’ Documentary shows touching reunion between former Team GB and NI athlete Lady Mary Peters and her track rival German Heide Rosendahl – 50 years after they battled for gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics

  • Lady Mary Peters beat German athlete Heide Rosendahl by just ten points in the final of the Olympic women’s pentathlon in Munich in 1972
  • German star graciously accepted coming second on home soil, hugging her rival
  • New docu-series sees the two former track and field stars reunited – with Rosendahl, 75, surprising the 83-year-old as she discussed winning her gold
  • Some 65,000 people have now viewed emotional reunion, calling it ‘heartwarming’ and saying it conveys ‘the beauty of sports and sportspeople’
  • 2022 marks 50 years since the Olympic Games in Munich, with the European Championships currently taking place there 

A new documentary captures the emotional moment celebrated former Olympian Lady Mary Peters was left speechless after being reunited with her former track rival – to mark 50 years since she won gold at the Munich Olympic Games.  

Lady Mary, 83, was filmed for a special docu-series marking five decades since her record-breaking performance in 1972 – but had no idea her rival and friend, former German athlete Heide Rosendahl, was waiting in the wings to surprise her. 

Peters, who was born in Lancashire but raised in Belfast from the age of 11 and still lives there, competed for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, winning a spectacular gold in the women’s pentathlon by a slim margin of just 10 points.

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Lady Mary Peters beat German athlete Heide Rosendahl by just ten points in the final of the Olympic women’s pentathlon in Munich in 1972 – but Rosdendahl was gracious about taking silver, congratulating her rival at the time

A new docu-series, 72 – A Gathering of Champions, sees the two former track and field stars reunited – with Rosendahl, 75, surprising the 83-year-old as she discussed winning gold

 Some 65,000 people have now viewed the clip, calling it ‘heartwarming’ and saying it conveys ‘the beauty of sports and sportspeople’

At the time, Rosendahl was tipped to win the gold, with the home crowd cheering the German on. However, the athlete took the silver medal graciously, hugging her rival trackside at the time. 

In a new docu-series, 72 – A Gathering of Champions, the pair were reunited – but only Rosendahl was in on the surprise. 

A clip shared by The Olympic Games Twitter account sees Lady Mary recounting how she knew she’d won the gold medal – because Rosendahl put her hands on her shoulders to congratulate her. 

While she discusses that moment in the recently filmed footage, Rosendahl taps her former fellow competitor on the shoulders – sparking joy in Peters. 


Lady Mary, who was born in Lancashire but raised in Belfast and still lives there, competed for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, winning gold in the women’s pentathlon by a slim margin of just 10 points. Pictured: Rosendahl, competing on home soil, goes over to her rival in 1972 to congratulate her

Lady Mary was clueless that her former rival was about to recreate the moment 50 years on

The celebrated track and fielder turns in shock to see Rosendahl ready to greet her

Embrace: Lady Mary is left emotional as she realises the surprise. 2022 marks 50 years since the Olympic Games in Munich, with the European Championships currently taking place there

Embracing her, she exclaims: ‘Oh my goodness, oh my goodness! Oh wow, it’s so good to see you’.

Rosendahl then asks: ‘Oh, you didn’t expect me?’ to which Lady Mary replies ‘I didn’t, no I didn’t!’ 

The clip has been viewed 65,000 times with many commenting on how heartwarming the clip is. 

@victrackgirl wrote: ‘Two of my athletic idols as a teenager. Lovely to see them together again.’

@anniet152 added: ‘So so special. I was there watching in 1972 – brings back so many amazing memories.’

@LeonaInks called it ‘such an incredible emotional moment of reunion.’

After her victory in 1972, Lady Mary received a death threat from the IRA as The Troubles raged.

‘Mary Peters is a Protestant and has won a medal for Britain. An attempt will be made on her life and it will be blamed on the IRA … her home will going up in the near future,’ a chilling Irish voice told the BBC in a phone call.

Far from being intimidated, she insisted on returning home immediately to Northern Ireland to share her success with the place she had long since fallen in love with having moved there from Liverpool as an 11-year-old. 

‘I’m going straight to Belfast,’ she declared. After arriving at the heavily fortified airport, she was paraded on an open-top truck down Royal Avenue, barely a month after 22 bombs had been detonated in the city on one single day. 

Protestants and Catholics alike famously lined the streets together to acclaim her.

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