ROME -- Ondina Valla, the 80-meter hurdle champion at the 1936 Summer Games and the first Italian woman to win an Olympic gold medal, died yesterday. She was 90.
She died of natural causes in her hometown of L'
Ms. 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.
The record was ratified despite a new rule against wind-aided times that was approved during the games.
Ms. Valla then won the final in 11.7 seconds in a photo finish.
She also set 21 Italian records during her career.
``This is a day of tremendous mourning for Italian sports," said Giovanni Petrucci, president of the Italian Olympic Committee. ``Ondina Valla was a forerunner for other female Olympic champions. Her victory represented the beginning of a new era for women's sports in Italy."
Ms. Valla, whose given name was Trebisonda, leaves her son, Luigi.