Daley Thompson: athlete bio
Daley Thompson set off from the blocks of prejudice and poverty to become the greatest British decathlete ever.Daley never had things easy: He grew up in a single parent home, his mother working several jobs to support the family. Prejudice and poverty were a way of life in his neighbourhood of Notting Hill. While training, he couldn’t afford accommodation, so he slept at the training grounds
Daley fought tooth and nail to be the greatest, and he succeeded against all odds. He is now mentoring the next generation of sportsmen and women, passing on his knowledge and dedication to brilliance.
“You have to believe in yourself, believe that you’ll beat the obstacles in front of you, whether it’s your background or the other athletes you’re up against…”
Daley Thompson is the greatest British decathlete ever and arguably one of Britain’s greatest ever athletes. His accolades include European and World records and Olympic, Commonwealth and European Championship gold medals.
Born in Notting Hill, his first sporting ambition was to become a professional footballer and escape the poverty and prejudice of his surroundings. But when his father left the family and his mother was forced to work several jobs to make ends meet, he was sent to a ‘boarding’ school. Here, his headmaster encouraged him to run. It was the start of a lifelong love of athletics.
“The most competitive sporting animal”
After leaving school to compete, Daley had to sleep at training grounds as his budget didn’t stretch to accommodation. He triumphed at the AAA Junior Championships in 1975, and the following year secured a place in the British Olympic team, aged 17, finishing 8th in the Decathlon. At the time, coach Frank Dick described him as “the most competitive sporting animal” he had ever come across.
In the run up to the Olympic Games Moscow 1980 he set three World junior records before winning his first Olympic Gold. His winning streak continued for the next four years, leapfrogging records with West German Jürgen Hingen to retain his title and win his second Olympic gold, in the Olympic Games Los Angeles 1984. He later gave both medals to his training group who had stood by him as he fought to achieve his dreams.
“I just knew I could be the best”
Daleys single mindedness was sometimes perceived as arrogance but with success comes expectation and increased scrutiny and Daleys way of handling this was to let his actions in track and field speak and not entertain the trappings of success.
- 2x Olympic Games gold 1980, 1984
- 1x World Championships gold 1983
- 3 Commonwealth Games gold 1978, 1982, 1986
- 1 Commonwealth Games silver 1986 (4x100m Relay)
- 1 European Championships bronze 1986 (4x100m Relay)
- 2 European Championships gold 1982, 1986
- 1 European Championships silver 1978
- Unbeaten for 10 years