Britain’s Olympic Greats – Dorothy Manley

Labour Party

Dorothy Manley is the one of only two British women to have won a medal in the 100 metres at the Olympics.

Dorothy was born in Manor Park, London in 1927.  She was initially introduced into athletics by one of her school teachers and worked her way up from the school, to the district and then to running for her county before the Second World War. She was evacuated to the countryside, but returned to London in 1942.

After that Dorothy ran for the Essex Ladies athletics club. She was added to a national list of potential Olympians in late 1947, and assigned to train with Sandy Duncan.  She began her training for the 1948 Summer Olympics early in March of 1948, training on the track four times a week, but never using the gym. Dorothy described the trials as a “fiasco”, having finished fifth at the Women’s Amateur Athletic Association Championships, but was still picked to represent the United Kingdom. She was working full time during 1948 for the Suez Canal Company as a typist, and used her summer holidays to attend the games although the leave was unpaid by her employer.

Dorothy had a very different experience in 1948 to the one our Olympic athletes will enjoy this year.  Her mother made her running vest and shorts for the Games, but she was given the blazer and skirt for the opening ceremony. While at the Games, she travelled to and from Wembley on the London Underground, as she was sharing a room with two other athletes near Eccleston Square in central London.

She qualified for the women’s 100 metres final, and finished in second place, winning the silver medal in her first international athletics event.  Dorothy described her start in the race as the “best of her life”,having described her normal starts as notoriously bad. She thought that this may have actually distracted her as her start was so good that she was expecting the race to be recalled.

Dorothy has not had the recognition that she deserves for her achievements, but despie that she is a true inspiration to our current generation of Olympic hopefuls.

Britain’s Olympic Hopefuls – Jodie Williams

Labour Party

This week’s Olympic woman hopeful is Jodie Williams. Talented Jodie represents Britain’s greatest chance of taking a medal at the 100 and 200 metres for quite some time.

Jodie Williams was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire to parents who were both county level sprinters.  It was her father recognized her talent at a young age: “Jodie would have finished while her nearest rival was still only about halfway up the track”.

Jodie has always been an ultra-consistent competitor who has won 151 consecutive races at junior level.   She won double gold at 100m and 200m in the 2009 World Youth Championships, before taking silver in the 200m at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Canada. She then went on to take double gold in the 100m and 200m at the 2011 European Junior Championships despite being the youngest woman in both races.

This has been a great year for Jodie, with her running a season’s best time of 7.29 at the Aviva UK Indoor Championships. She was subsequently chosen to run at the IAAF World Championships in Istanbul,Turkey. Before the championships began, Jodie stated that her aim was to make the semi-finals at the championships. In the heat, she came 3rd with a time of 7.40 s and in the semi-final she came 5th with a time of 7.32 s and did not advance to the final.

After the World Indoor Championships, Jodie announced that she was to focus on getting selected for the 100 m at the London 2012 Games. She stated, ‘Now it’s onwards and upwards for the Olympics. I’m really concentrating on the 100m because it’s always been a dream of mine to do the 100m at the Olympics’.

Jodie put her career on temporary hold earlier in 2011 so she could study for her A-Level exams in maths and psychology.  She fully intends to go to university in autumn 2012 – a home win in the Olympics may seem like a doddle after the trials and tribulations of the UCAS form.