Ann-Britt Leyman was the leading Swedish sprinter of the 1940s, albeit she won an Olympic medal in 1948 for the long jump.
Ann-Britt Leyman was born in Stenungsund in 1922. Her family were farmers and her large family comprised three brothers and three sisters.
Ann-Britt Leyman was a member of the Kvinnliga IK Sport club in Gothenburg throughout the time that she was a competitive sportswoman. Her name began to appear in the local sporting results towards the end of the 1930s and she won her first district championship medal in 1939. She earned 15 individual Swedish championship gold medals and eight relay medals during the ensuing decade. Her achievements comprised: the 80 metres in 1941; the 100 metres in 1941–1944 and 1946–1949; the 200 metres in 1942–1947 and 1949; the 4x80 metre relay 1939–1941; the 4x100 metre relay 1942–1945, and 1947. For a time she held the Swedish record for both the 60 and 100 metre distance in the relay event.
At the Oslo European championship in athletics in 1946, which represented the return of international competitions after the Second World War, Ann-Britt Leyman competed in the 100 and 200 metre events. Ann-Britt Leyman achieved fourth place in the 100 metres and sixth place in the 200 metres. She also served as the anchor in the Swedish relay team for the 4x100 metre distance, in which the team earned fifth place.
Ann-Britt Leyman won third place in the long jump at the Swedish championships of 1946 and 1948. It was, however, not until 1948 that she began to seriously train for the long jump. Her performances in this event – for which she set the Swedish record – led the Swedish Olympic committee (SOK) to select her to represent Sweden at the London Olympic Games in 1948. In a level final she achieved a distance of 5.755 metres, her second best jump. Thanks to the half centimetre margin she achieved over her closest competitor she won the bronze medal. This came as a major surprise. This bronze medal was the first Olympic medal awarded to Sweden in women’s athletics since 1928 (Inga Gentzel and Ruth Svedberg), and it was not until 1996 that another Swedish woman (Ludmila Engquist) won an Olympic medal in athletics.
Ann-Britt Leyman was also a talented handball player. However, she dropped that sport just as the Kvinnliga IK Sport club attained its peak.
Ann-Britt Leyman’s sister Ulla Leyman, who was two years her junior, was also a member of Kvinnliga IK Sport. She too was also a very competent sprinter. On four occasions – 1942, 1944, 1945 and 1947 – both sisters were on the Kvinnliga IK Sport teams which won the 4x100 metre events at Swedish championships.
In September 1948 Ann-Britt Leyman married Åke Olsson. Their first child was born in 1950 and this brought an end to Ann-Britt Leyman’s sporting career.
Ann-Britt Leyman died in Gothenburg in 2013. She is buried at the Fridhem cemetery.