Fatima Whitbread

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Fatima Whitbread
Fatima Whitbread 2.jpg
Whitbread in 2012
Personal information
Birth nameFatima Vedad
NationalityFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  Great Britain
Born (1961-03-03) 3 March 1961 (age 60)
London, England
Home town Stoke Newington, London, England
Height5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Weight10 st 10 lb (68 kg)
CountryFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  Great Britain
Sport Athletics
Event(s) Javelin throw
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)77.44 (1986)
Medal record
Women's Athletics
Representing Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Great Britain
Olympic Games
Silver medal icon (S initial).svg 1988 Seoul Javelin
Bronze medal icon (B initial).svg 1984 Los Angeles Javelin
World Championships
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1987 Rome Javelin
Silver medal icon (S initial).svg 1983 Helsinki Javelin
European Championships
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1986 Stuttgart Javelin
Representing Flag of England.svg  England
Commonwealth Games
Silver medal icon (S initial).svg 1986 Edinburgh Javelin
Bronze medal icon (B initial).svg 1982 Brisbane Javelin

Fatima Whitbread MBE (née Vedad; 3 March 1961) is a retired British athlete and former javelin thrower. She won the 1986 European Championships in Stuttgart, having broken the world record with a throw of 77.44 metres in the qualifying round the previous day. She went on to win the 1987 World Championships in Rome. She is also a two-time Olympic medallist, winning bronze at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Her former world record throw makes her one of only two women in history to have thrown the javelin (old model) over 75 metres.


Early life

Whitbread was born in Stoke Newington, London, [1] to a Turkish Cypriot mother and Greek Cypriot father. [2] Speaking in 2020 on the BBC2 television programme Pilgrimage: the Road to Istanbul she said that both her parents were from Istanbul. She grew up in a series of children's homes, occasionally being left in the care of her abusive biological mother. In a 2003 interview with The Observer , Whitbread said, "It was a nightmare of a childhood and it was only because I loved sport so much that I got through it and met my true mother." [2]

At the age of 14, she was adopted by the family of Margaret Whitbread, her javelin coach. [2] She spent her teenage years in Chadwell St Mary, Essex and they holidayed in a caravan park at Burnham-on-Crouch. [3]


Whitbread broke the javelin world record with a throw of 77.44m in the qualifying round of the 1986 European Championships in Athletics (where she also won the final) and became World Champion in 1987. She became well known in the UK for her celebratory wiggle after defeating arch-rival Petra Felke in these events. Her performances in 1987 led to her being voted winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. [4]

Whitbread had won the silver medal at the inaugural World Championships in 1983. She was also known for her rivalry with fellow British javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson, who won the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles with Whitbread finishing in bronze medal position. In the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Whitbread won the silver medal behind Petra Felke, who had broken the world record in the interim. [ citation needed ]

Whitbread is a one-time governor of King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, Essex. According to a November 2008 Daily Express article, she owns her own company and is involved with the stadium being used after the 2012 Summer Olympics.[ specify ] [5]

Personal life

In 1997, Whitbread married Andrew Norman in Copthorne, West Sussex [6] where Fatima had regularly been attending St John's so that their wedding could be near Gatwick Airport for the international sporting wedding guests. [7] They had a son who was born in the late 1990s. [8] The couple divorced in 2006. Norman, who represented many athletes professionally, died of a heart attack in 2007. [9]

Whitbread's autobiography, Survivor, was published in 2012. [10]

In media

On 28 January 1995 Whitbread was interviewed at length by Andrew Neil, on his one-on-one interview show Is This Your Life, produced by Open Media for Channel 4. [11]

On 26 December 2009, Whitbread took part in a celebrity version of the TV show Total Wipeout .[ citation needed ] She also appeared on an episode of Celebrity Come Dine with Me on 2 September 2011. [12] On 19 December 2011, Whitbread appeared on a Christmas edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? partnered with Russell Watson. It was rumoured that she had been hired as This Morning 's new fitness expert [13] and made her first appearance on 5 January 2012.

On 21 July 2012, Whitbread appeared with Sharron Davies in the BBC One quiz show Pointless Celebrities which aired on 26 May 2012. On 21 July 2012, she was a contestant on an Olympians edition of ITV's The Cube . In 2014, she appeared on Celebrity Blockbusters on Challenge, and the following year took part in the ITV sports show Eternal Glory, but was the first celebrity to be eliminated.

I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

Starting on 13 November 2011, Whitbread took part in the ITV show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! . Whitbread and fellow campmate Antony Cotton left after 21 days on 2 December 2011, placing her third.

International competitions

Representing Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Great Britain / Flag of England.svg  England
1978 Commonwealth Games Edmonton, Canada6th49.16 m
1979 European Junior Championships Bydgoszcz, Poland1st58.20 m
1980 Olympic Games Moscow, Soviet Union18th (q)49.74 m
1982 European Championships Athens, Greece8th65.10 m
Commonwealth Games Brisbane, Australia3rd58.86 m
1983 World Championships Helsinki, Finland2nd69.14 m
1984 Olympic Games Los Angeles, United States3rd67.14 m
1985 World Cup Canberra, Australia3rd65.12 m
1986 Commonwealth Games Edinburgh, United Kingdom2nd68.54 m
European Championships Stuttgart, West Germany1st76.32 m
Grand Prix Final Rome, Italy2nd69.40 m
1987 World Championships Rome, Italy1st76.64 m
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea2nd70.32 m
(q) Indicates overall position in qualifying round.

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  1. "Fatima Whitbread". United Kingdom Athletics. Archived from the original on 12 October 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 "Triumph and despair: Fatima Whitbread", The Observer
  3. Holiday of a Lifetime with Len Goodman: Fatima Whitbread [ incomplete short citation ]
  4. "BBC Sport - Sports Personality of the Year - Past Winners". news.bbc.co.uk.
  5. Daily Express, 8 November 2008, Saturday Magazine supplement.
  6. "Fatima fails in bid to be queen of jungle". East Grinstead Courier and Observer. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2012. Locals remembered the day she married Andrew Norman in Copthorne's St John's Church. ... Fatima married her promoter and agent Andrew Norman in 1997, with the reception held at Copthorne Hotel Effingham Park.
  7. Brighton's Annabel Giles tipped to join I'm a Celebrity Retrieved 3/5/21.
  8. St John's church reference the wedding and baptism Retrieved 29/5/21
  9. "Family Announcements, Andrew Norman - Funeral Directors and services - Family Announcements Announcements". www.thisisannouncements.co.uk.
  10. Fatima Whitbread (5 July 2012). Survivor: The Shocking and Inspiring Story of a True Champion. Ebury Publishing. ISBN   978-1-4481-3225-6.
  11. Listing on IMDb, accessed 25 August 2020
  12. "Come Dine With Me Athletics Special" . Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  13. "Fatima Whitbread lands This Morning fitness expert gig – I'm A Celebrity News – Reality TV". Digital Spy. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Flag of East Germany.svg Petra Felke
Women's Javelin Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Flag of East Germany.svg Petra Felke