She began running in 1948. The next year she was named “athlete of the match” at a tournament in London.
Fanny Blankers-Koen who had won four gold medals at the 1948 Olympic Games in London. Fanny voiced doubts about Foekje’s gender, and refused to run against her.
|Foekje at home in 1950.|
Foekje and four other women were sent for a gynaecological examination, and it was concluded that Foekje was not a woman. While on her way to a meeting in France, she was stopped by Dutch Athletics authorities, and expelled for life from competition.
She returned home to Friesland, and did not leave the house for a year.
In 1952 Foekje had an operation ‘on her glands’, that was never explained even to her siblings. She lived the rest of her life in Burum. Several journalists attempted to find out more, but she would never speak on the topic.
After she died, a controversial test was done on DNA found on her clothing. This would indicate that she was a Mosaic with a Y-chromosome in 30% of her skin cells.
Max Dohle had written a biography some years earlier, but did not publish it until after her death.
- Marina de Vries. “Het kneuterige Nederland van Ben van Meerendonk”. CultuurWijs, 3 sept 2003. www.cultuurwijs.nl/nwc.internationaalinstituutvoorsocialegeschiedenis/cultuurwijs.nl/i000006.html.
- Max Dohle. Het verwoeste leven van Foekje Dillema: de grootste tragedie uit de Nederlandse sportgeschiedenis. Amsterdam [etc.]: De Arbeiderspers/Het Sporthuis, 2008.