Daley Thompson, double Olympic gold medallist, set off from the blocks of prejudice and poverty to become the greatest British decathlete ever.
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, Olympic athlete
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"
Daley's focus was sometimes perceived as arrogance but with success comes expectation and increased scrutiny, and Daley's way of handling this was to let his actions on the track do the talking, and not entertain the trappings of success.
2x Olympic Games gold 1980, 1984
1x World Championships gold 1984
3x Commonwealth Games gold 1978, 1982, 1986
1x Commonwealth Games silver 1986 (4x100m Relay)
2x European Championships gold 1982, 1986
1x European Championships bronze 1986 (4x100m Relay)
1x European Championships silver 1978
Unbeaten for 10 years