Great British Women Olympians – Denise Lewis

Labour Party

It is now only 23 weeks until the opening of the London Olympics and the consequent Paralympics.

In the run up to the games I have decided to take a look at some of the British women who have achieved past successes and who are tipped for success in the summer. It is clear when the BBC think that “lads mags” such as Zoo and Nuts have serious coverage of sport that British sports reporting still fails to cover sport properly. One way for women to challenge this is to write more about sport.

Each weekend I will present a duo of sportswomen from the same sporting event. One from the past and one who has been chosen to represent Great Britain in London 2012.

Denise Lewis OBE – Heptathlon

In 2000 Denise Lewis brought home a gold medal for Great  Britain from the Sydney Games competing in the heptathlon. This success was achieved despite suffering from an injury to her Achilles tendon.

Denise began competing in the heptathlon in 1989. Eleven years later, at a meet in Talence, France, she broke the British heptathlon record with a score of 6831. This record has not yet been broken.

Denise’s athletic achievements were recognised in 2001 when she was presented with an OBE. In 2011 Denise was inducted into the UK athletics hall of fame.

The heptathlon is a series of events in which competitors compete against each other in 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m, long jump, javelin throw and 800m.

As well as her gold medal in Sydney, Denise also won a bronze medal at the Atlanta Games and gold medals at two consecutive Commonwealth Games in 1994 and 1998. She has also won numerous medals at international and European athletics meets.

Shortly after the birth of her first child in 2002, Denise entered a particularly turbulent period of her career.  Her links with controversial technical coach Dr Ekkart Arbeit, accused of doping atheletes in the 1970s, led to her receiving a barrage of hostile media coverage.

She retired from athletics in June 2005. Since then, Denise has gone on to have a second successful career as a BBC sports pundit and appeared on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2004.

Since 2009 Denise has been an International Inspiration Ambassador. Denise uses her great sporting legacy to inspire youngsters to take part in sport and physical activity around the world.

Denise was born in West Bromwich in 1972 and was brought up inWolverhampton. She has said that she was inspired to become an athlete whilst watching the 1980 Moscow Olympics on the TV as a child.