Athletics Weekly

Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Discussions about athletics history

Th greatest

Tessa Sanderson
1
2%
Fatima Whitbread
0
No votes
Liz McColgan
1
2%
Sally Gunnell
10
23%
Denise Lewis
5
12%
Kelly Holmes
4
9%
Paula Radcliffe
20
47%
Ashia Hansen
2
5%
 
Total votes : 43

Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby liuxuan » Sun Apr 23, 2006 11:37 pm

Who do you guys think? as the options ive listed all the british females who i think have made a huge international impact by winning major champs, however its late on a sunday so if i miss anyone out im sorry


Its a great list, although for me, theres only option - and thats our Paula.
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Postby Javelin Sam » Mon Apr 24, 2006 11:26 am

I have voted for Denise Lewis, lots of you might think i would have voted for either Tessa (Olympic gold) or Fatima (WR) but for me it has got to be denise..

the reason is that she is/was an outstanding all round athlete that has spurred a new line of british female multi eventers to push harder and succeed.

Sure kelly homes and paula did good things..just by running and tessa and fatima in throwing but denise did it in running, jumping and throwing.

I have much respect for that..

Sam
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Postby liuxuan » Mon Apr 24, 2006 11:37 am

Javelin Sam wrote:I have voted for Denise Lewis, lots of you might think i would have voted for either Tessa (Olympic gold) or Fatima (WR) but for me it has got to be denise..

the reason is that she is/was an outstanding all round athlete that has spurred a new line of british female multi eventers to push harder and succeed.

Sure kelly homes and paula did good things..just by running and tessa and fatima in throwing but denise did it in running, jumping and throwing.

I have much respect for that..

Sam


i also have such an ubelievable amount of respect for Denise, shes amazing. she was among the very best for so long, and proved what an amazing champion she is. she is one of the greatest hepathetletes of all time.

Paula just for me tho
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Postby Javelin Sam » Mon Apr 24, 2006 11:56 am

that is because this forum is just a forum of past and present long distance runners...

What has paula actually done over the past 10 years apart from drop out of several major events from "Injury" or "Stress" and still get paid to do it...

Bring on the central contracts....
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Postby Jon Mulkeen » Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:02 pm

Javelin Sam wrote:What has paula actually done over the past 10 years
A helluva lot more than Denise for starters.

Perhaps an all-time list of British medallists at international champs can help with a discussion on this subject:
http://www.gbrathletics.com/bm/

Note who the top female is...
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Postby Javelin Sam » Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:06 pm

what was paula's excuse for not runnig the marathon?? she had had an injury and was not in "winning form" so she wouldn't run....even though she could have run...YAWN
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Postby Jon Mulkeen » Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:11 pm

Javelin Sam wrote:what was paula's excuse for not runnig the marathon?? she had had an injury and was not in "winning form" so she wouldn't run....even though she could have run...YAWN
And where exactly did you hear that from?! Wherever you got it, it's plain incorrect. She bruised a joint in her foot - anyone who knows anything about such injuries knows that those type of injuries can take a good while to heal. Perdita Felicien STILL hasn't fully recovered from the bruised heel bone she suffered in the 2004 OG final.

And how does withdrawing from London detract WHATSOEVER from what she has ALREADY achieved? I.e. 12 world records and six global titles on the road and XC. Denise won an Olympic gold when the big favourite, Eunice Barber, had to withdraw. Whoopie.
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Postby Javelin Sam » Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:24 pm

Jon wrote:
Javelin Sam wrote:what was paula's excuse for not runnig the marathon?? she had had an injury and was not in "winning form" so she wouldn't run....even though she could have run...YAWN
And where exactly did you hear that from?! Wherever you got it, it's plain incorrect. She bruised a joint in her foot - anyone who knows anything about such injuries knows that those type of injuries can take a good while to heal. Perdita Felicien STILL hasn't fully recovered from the bruised heel bone she suffered in the 2004 OG final.

And how does withdrawing from London detract WHATSOEVER from what she has ALREADY achieved? I.e. 12 world records and six global titles on the road and XC. Denise won an Olympic gold when the big favourite, Eunice Barber, had to withdraw. Whoopie.


I read it in the press somewhere.. as i cannot locate the link to the story i shall allow you to discredit my comment.

12 WR's.. how many of those were breaking her own WR in one event?
Did Sergey Bubka break 10's of WR's or did he just break the Polevault WR several times..

there IS a difference...

Denise inspired a whole crop of young heptathletes to come through in her wake..
Paula has not.. there have always been good distance runners in the UK for women.. it's just that paula has been a little bit better than the rest.

(oh boy am i being controversial on a board of distance runners)
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Postby Javelin Sam » Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:27 pm

and another point.. there is more opportunity for Paula to achieve these global titles...
all the different track, cross and road events she can enter..denise would have to train all year to compete in 7 events over 2 days at 110% and then probably have no other chance of competing at that level again that year.
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Postby Jon Mulkeen » Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:34 pm

Javelin Sam wrote:12 WR's.. how many of those were breaking her own WR in one event?
It's pretty much half and half. Bubka and Isinbayeva clearly vaulted well within themselves each time they attempted a WR, but you cannot accuse Paula of doing the same. Every time she steps on the track/road/XC, she gives it 100% from the gun - mainly because going out hard is her best chance of winning, but also because she likes to test herself and push the boundaries.

Javelin Sam wrote:Denise inspired a whole crop of young heptathletes to come through in her wake..
Paula has not.. there have always been good distance runners in the UK for women.. it's just that paula has been a little bit better than the rest.
You couldn't be further away from the truth. Historically, Britain have always been strong in the heptathlon, ever since the days of Mary Peters and Mary Rand. Before Denise came along there was the likes of Judy Simpson performing very well on the world stage. Sotherton was already a heptathlete before Denise hit the big time, so perhaps the only leading British youngster that Denise has inspired is Jessica Ennis.

Now, compare that to Paula. She has inspired athletes (men, women, young, old, etc) the WORLD OVER to get out and run. The standards of junior female distance running at the moment is at an all-time high (yes we have always been 'competitive' but never have we been this strong). Go and ask the likes of Emily Pidgeon, Non Stanford, Sian Edwards, Steph Twell, Sarah Hopkinson, etc, which athlete they admire most and you'll get the same answer every time.

Also, Denise competed when standards for heptathlon was globally at an all-time low. Paula has done the opposite - competed against the Africans and has beaten them all.

Javelin Sam wrote:oh boy am i being controversial on a board of distance runners
For whatever it's worth, my background is sprints and track and field. I am far from a distance runner, but even I can acknowledge the outstanding impact Paula has had on the sport. Denise just can't claim the same (and believe me, I'm one of the biggest Denise Lewis fans you're likely to meet).
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Postby Jon Mulkeen » Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:39 pm

Javelin Sam wrote:and another point.. there is more opportunity for Paula to achieve these global titles...
all the different track, cross and road events she can enter..denise would have to train all year to compete in 7 events over 2 days at 110% and then probably have no other chance of competing at that level again that year.
Granted, there are more opportunities for distance runners to compete than multi-eventers. But even taking that into consideration, Paula's achievements far outweigh Denise's.

Paula's major titles on the track, road and XC is comparable to a multi-eventer being competitive in the hep and another couple events (like JJK). Denise was a great heptathlete and a decent LJ'er, but could never challenge for major medals in her seondary event. Paula, however, was competitive in events ranging from 1500m to the marathon.

Another point - Paula is the greatest her event (marathon) has ever witnessed. Denise simply can't claim the same. She might squeak into the top 10, but that's as far as it goes.

In every which way we compare them, there is simply no comparison.
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Postby DMulvee » Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:43 pm

Paula was my favourite athlete during the late 90's, she would appear at most of the British events and she would put in huge efforts in races and seemed to be slowly inching her way to the top. In terms of which British female athlete has had the best ever performance I think that Radcliffe would deserve to win for her marathon record, but for the best athlete I'm going to have to go for Denise Lewis. She was never going to break the world record but the fact that she didn't have a weak event means that she was very special. Sotherton isn't in the the same league, a heptathlon should require 7 good events, Sotherton threw about 32 m in the commonwealths this year - Lewis threw 56 back in 1994.
The table in the link above is unfair: Radcliffe can run in half marathon championships on the road, cross country champs and also have opportunities on the track, whereas none-distance runners have far fewer opportunities to win global titles. Everyone wants to win an Olympic gold however many major athletes missed the world champs in the marathon and decided on a payday instead. Sure Radcliffe was by far the best in Helsinki, but she wasn't racing the best. If she were to go on to win gold in Beijing or to break her marathon record again, or to take a track gold in the Europeans then she could be considered the greatest female athlete but not at the moment
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Postby Jon Mulkeen » Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:50 pm

DMulvee wrote:the fact that she didn't have a weak event means that she was very special.
A leading heptathlete failing to break 24 seconds for 200m is anything but 'special'.

DMulvee wrote:Sure Radcliffe was by far the best in Helsinki, but she wasn't racing the best.
Ndereba - former WR holder and 2nd all-time; Tulu - one the all-time greats; Dita - 2:21 runner, etc?! In terms of depth, it was the best championship marathon of all-time. Sure, a couple names were missing, but you can hardly call it a depleted field (like the Sydney heptathlon final).
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Postby Oleg » Mon Apr 24, 2006 3:22 pm

Jon wrote:Perhaps an all-time list of British medallists at international champs can help with a discussion on this subject:
http://www.gbrathletics.com/bm/

Note who the top female is...


I think you have to take the list with a pinch of salt, it brings up some real surprises. For instance, Jonathan Edwards could be deemed to be less succesful than Marlon Devonish and Allyn Condon looking at that list but given his amazing world records I'd say there is no competition.

Bringing it back to this discussion though, factoring in world records only makes the case stronger for Radcliffe. Lewis does not feature so I don't think you can push her case that much. How about Gunnell? Almost as many medals as Radcliffe in one track discipline and an old WR to her name - should be considered to be close to Radcliffe surely?
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Postby Jon Mulkeen » Mon Apr 24, 2006 3:28 pm

Oleg wrote:How about Gunnell? should be considered to be close to Radcliffe surely?
Definitely. Gunnell and Radcliffe are clearly the two most successful female athletes Britain has produced and it is difficult to separate the two. In my books, Paula gets the nod (pun intended) :wink:
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Postby kima » Mon Apr 24, 2006 5:53 pm

Jon wrote:
Javelin Sam wrote:What has paula actually done over the past 10 years
A helluva lot more than Denise for starters.

...


Ouch!

But Denise is the reason you got into the sport so we all owe her a huge debt of gratitude! :lol: 8) :wink:

For me it is very close between Gunnell and Radcliffe....who to vote for , who to vote for???? :?
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Postby marknhj » Mon Apr 24, 2006 10:06 pm

If she hadn't competed in the era of drugged up Eastern Europeans and Americans, you could make an arguement for Kathy Cook to at least be in the poll...
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Postby sovietvest » Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:25 am

marknhj wrote:If she hadn't competed in the era of drugged up Eastern Europeans and Americans, you could make an arguement for Kathy Cook to at least be in the poll...


Great call - her 22.10 (-0.1) in the LA OG would win her most major champs now. And she ran that after the 400 rounds/final! Imagine what Bob Kersee could have done with a talent like her's ................ no, on second thoughts let's not.
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Postby Alexm » Thu May 25, 2006 10:40 am

It has to be Gunnell, as she's the only one who held Olympic, World, European & Commonwealth titles simultaneously, as well as holding the WR. No easy acchievement.

To Jon, you're quite confrontational in your posts, and sarcastic. Is this really necessary, especially coming from someone who should be leading by example on these boards? We all have different opinions, just because somebody has a different view to you, it doesnt mean you have to go all out to (try and) rip their argument to shreads.

I dread to think what you're like when you're schmoozing with elite athletes. Perhaps AW should send you on a course in tact and diplomacy?
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Postby marknhj » Wed May 31, 2006 9:52 pm

Good to see troll's inhabit both sides of the Atlantic....
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Postby kima » Wed May 31, 2006 10:07 pm

Alexm wrote:
I dread to think what you're like when you're schmoozing with elite athletes. Perhaps AW should send you on a course in tact and diplomacy?


I agree!

AW should send him to Canada to learn a little humility and grace.

Maybe knock that weird accent out of him while he is here. :P
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Postby ace » Wed May 31, 2006 10:55 pm

I agree with the other two you are browbeating, this is just an individuals opinion . I think all of them were great in their time. It's just a bit of fun. I voted for Paula but because of your comments I feel like backing Denise just for the hell of it. Perhaps I should have done anyway as I bought her book and I havent bought any of the others (if they have all published anything). So Jon if you have an opinion just give it and dont get so overheated, just chill
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Postby daisy » Wed May 31, 2006 11:10 pm

ace wrote:So Jon if you have an opinion just give it and dont get so overheated, just chill

What's the big deal? I thought JS and Jon were having a pretty interesting argument. It didn't seem that overheated.
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Postby Jon Mulkeen » Thu Jun 01, 2006 9:42 am

ace wrote:So Jon if you have an opinion just give it and dont get so overheated, just chill
It's called a discussion. It didn't degenerate to name-calling or a slanging match like so many of the other threads that are now dead. I don't see what was wrong with it.
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Postby RobertC » Thu Jun 01, 2006 12:18 pm

I'll have to say Gunnell for the reasons another poster has mentioned above - the 'grand slam', a world record, invincibility (during her peak years) and a fearless attitude towards her competitiors. No ducking - she always raced the best athletes around - and mastered her event within a year of taking it up in 1987.

Radcliffe is a media victim in this country. She will always be remembered by the 'general' public for her Athens failures. In addition, you cannot really take great account of road and country titles when assessing an athlete's pedigree - they are good but they are not what gains an athlete kudos (Bekele and Ngugi being exceptions for XC). Radcliffe had a great XC win as a junior in 1992 - but went seven years without winning a global track medal until Seville. In Sydney and Edmonton she was outclasssed by superior athletes - I doubt that different tactics would have helped win a medal.

She had an amazing year in 2002 - but did not meet her most dangerous rivals in the distances at which she excelled that year (5000m and 10000m). With a faster opening lap she could have broken the 5000m record in Manchester - and with opposition could have run, I suspect low 14:20s that day (quicker than the Turk's current WR). Similarly, she could also have run 29:50 in the Europeans under better conditions and with more opposition. 2:15 is Beamonesque - but it was a shame that she couldn't make the Worlds in Paris - but Adere looked unbeatable (at least to me) that day. Athens has long been debated - who knows what would have happened - but for me, a fit Radcliffe would have beaten Noguchi that day, despite the latter's incredible performance in the conditions.

I feel that Radcliffe devalued herself in running the 10000m in Helsinki; again, the general public might not necessarily recognise that an athlete who has trained for the marathon will lack the speed for a race of that calibre. The marathon win was great - but no Noguchi to provide a challenge.

My list (from the athletes listed above):

1. Gunnell
2. Holmes (Rankings 1993-2004, 2 OG gold, 1 OG bronze, 2 WC silver, 1 WC bronze, 2 CG gold, 1 CG silver, 1 EC bronze)
3. Lewis (Rankings 1994-2003, 2 OG medals (1 gold), 2 WC medals, 2 CG gold, 1 EC gold)
4. Radcliffe
5. Sanderson
6. Whitbread
7. McColgan
8. Hansen


In terms of profile raising for the sport, no-one touches Radcliffe. But on athletic achievement alone, she is not (for me - and I acknowledge that assessment is subjective) the greatest British female athlete of the last 25 years.
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Postby Jon Mulkeen » Thu Jun 01, 2006 12:48 pm

For whatever it is worth, when asked who he thought the greatest male and female British athletes are/were, Mel Watman said Seb Coe and Paula Radcliffe.
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Postby ace » Fri Jun 02, 2006 3:32 am

Who is Mel Watman? Not being rude I really don't know.

By the way Daisy there IS no big deal "it's called a discussion" remember!
"I don't see what was wrong with it"! That's right isn't it Jon?
lol to myself
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Postby daisy » Fri Jun 02, 2006 4:23 am

ace wrote:By the way Daisy there IS no big deal "it's called a discussion" remember!

Obviously i misinterpreted your post. Whatman is the ex editor of AW and the now defunct Athletics Today, among other things related to athletics.
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Postby Jon Mulkeen » Fri Jun 02, 2006 9:39 am

Put simply, he is one of the greatest athletics experts in the world.
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Postby Eddie » Fri Jun 02, 2006 9:40 am

I'd go with Sally Gunnell - for her medals, including Olympic Gold, and her World Record.

Her book, Running Tall, is well worth a read.
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