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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

Postby sleady » Fri Jun 02, 2006 12:37 pm

Eddie wrote: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.


I don't get this worshipping of Gunnell. It's a soft event and she was in at the start when few women took part.
Women had been running marathons for far longer when Radcliffe turned up. She then rewrote the history of the event. She'd be over half a mile ahead of her next rival in a head-head over the distance. 10Km world best puts Radcliffe 30 seconds ahead of her next rival. Plus UK track records over every distance from 3000 and up, as well as road bests at 5k, 5 miles, 10k and half marathon.
Championship marathons are her blotted copybook, but given the overall picture, and that she's got a few years left it doesn't detract from her achievements.
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Postby RobertC » Fri Jun 02, 2006 3:53 pm

How is the women's 400mh a 'soft event'? And Gunnell's first championship at the event, the Seoul Olympics, took place several years after the event had become competitive. Indeed, the first unofficial world championship in the event took place at Sittard in 1980. It is arguable that women's marathon running only became popular in the early 80s through Waitz, Benoit, Kristiansen and others.

And its not just the marathon that blots Radcliffe's championship copybook - every other event does too!
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Postby sleady » Fri Jun 02, 2006 6:15 pm

World Championships weren't held in athletics for any event until 1983!!

1 trick pony as opposed to an athlete who's had success over road, cross, track and distances from 10k up to Marathon.

3 World Half Marathon titles
1 World Marathon title
2 World Cross Long Course titles (plus 3 podium finishes
1 European 10000m title
1 Commonwealth 10000m title
2 Marathon World Bests

400m hurdles in Melbourne was so competetive that only 13 athletes showed up as opposed to 34 for the 100m!!
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Postby RobertC » Mon Jun 05, 2006 9:42 am

The IAAF held the first unofficial world championships for two women's events at Sittard in 1980 - http://www.gbrathletics.com/ic/wc.htm.

I don't think many people place much credence in road titles (marathon excepted).

Perhaps you should review Gunnell's career a little more closely - she had some fine sprint performances, and was an excellent heptathlete. She only just missed the 1984 Olympic sprint hurdles team (as a junior).

Radcliffe has some way to go to match Gunnell's career achievements, I'm afraid. She had no opposition of note in her championship titles of 2002 (though I have already stated that I believe she would have won the commonwealths and the Europeans anyway) - whereas I don't recall Gunnell ever having won a 'soft' championship final.

I don't see the relevance of the number of 400mh entrants to the 2006 Commonwelath Games to this debate?
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Postby Power-of-ten-man » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:48 pm

This poll clearly shows how many runners frequent this forum!

It has to be tessa for me, then denise, paula is good for running, but thats it.
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Postby aspire » Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:18 pm

Hi there-just joined the forum.

I know these are opinions (and as Clint Eastwood said 'opinions are like a**holes, everybody's got one, and they are best hidden'). But how can anyone think that Denise Lewis or tessa are more worthy than kelly Holmes/Paula/Sally.

The Olympic Gold is clearly the benchmark in which case it should be Kelly (with 2), then Sally (as she also had the WR, world champ euro champ etc), then Mary Peters, Tessa then Denise Lewis.

It's hard to discount Paula though as if she had Gold then she would clearly walk it with her total dominance throughout the board.

The truth about Denise Lewis is that she won in a very poor Games as did Tessa. (and to an extent Dame Mary too). The difference is though Mary is liked by all something Denise Lewis most certainly is not for some reason :wink: (maybe it's Heptathletes as no-one seems to have any time for Kelly Sotherton either)!
I would find it hard to seperate kelly and Paula myself but here goes

1-paula
2-Kelly Holmes
3-Sally Gunnell
4-Kathy Cook
5-Tessa/Fatima

Mike
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Postby kima » Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:50 pm

aspire wrote:Hi there-just joined the forum.

reason :wink: (maybe it's Heptathletes as no-one seems to have any time for Kelly Sotherton either)!

Mike


Wecome Mike.

Oh I think a few people around here (and you know who you are :wink: ) would have all the time in the world for KellyS. :D
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Postby SQUACKEE » Wed Jun 07, 2006 2:42 pm

1:41.7 AND 2:15.25 Seb and Paula get my vote for their amazing world records they ran.
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Postby Darkelf » Fri Jun 09, 2006 12:31 pm

Hi Everyone,

New member here so I'm going to stick my neck out and say Wendy Sly.

5th in the 1500/3000 at the 83 worlds and silver in the 84 Olympics at the height of the drug fueled eastern block dominance. I consider Wendy as really the forerunner of womens british middle distance running. (Along with Kirsty Wade of course.)

I've known Wendy for many years (although sadly I havn't spoken to her for a long time) she was a gutsy runner and trained as hard as us guys with no quarter being given or taken.

Yes Gunnell and Radcliffe are great but I believe that Wendy was really the mother of british middle distance running. (All due respect to Wend's age of course. :D )
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Postby nevetssllim » Tue Jun 13, 2006 9:25 pm

Darkelf wrote:Hi Everyone,

New member here so I'm going to stick my neck out and say Wendy Sly.

5th in the 1500/3000 at the 83 worlds and silver in the 84 Olympics at the height of the drug fueled eastern block dominance. I consider Wendy as really the forerunner of womens british middle distance running. (Along with Kirsty Wade of course.)



Yes but the Russians and most of the Eastern bloc boycotted those games in 1984 and I'm sure the Romanian athletes were clean.

I would say Kirsty Wade is better than Sly and you can't really stereotype the Soviets and say all of them were on drugs.
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Postby aspire » Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:04 pm

Wendy Sly was indeed a great runner in her time-always had a go and had real guts, but in regards to the 'greatest British woman athlete'--she really is nowhere near. Yvonne Murray and Liz Lynch would be far ahead of her-and they're Scotch :wink:
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Postby kingmaker » Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:52 am

Obviously you kids have never heard of Kathy Smallwood/Cook?? She was brilliant and a babe. If it wasnt for the drug guzzling Czech Lady |Boys, Russians and pill popping East Germans she'd have been OLympic and World Champion. No doubt about it. :roll:
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Postby sovietvest » Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:51 pm

kingmaker wrote:Obviously you kids have never heard of Kathy Smallwood/Cook?? She was brilliant and a babe. If it wasnt for the drug guzzling Czech Lady |Boys, Russians and pill popping East Germans she'd have been OLympic and World Champion. No doubt about it. :roll:


Agreed!!

People get excited over Allyson Felix - just think what Smallwood would achieve if she was running now. She had the ability to have won every 200m global champs since 2000.

BTW, it wasn't pill popping Eastern Europeans who denied her in 1984 but a double gold medallist who was every bit as suspect as any deep voiced E. German!
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Postby kingmaker » Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:43 pm

If kratochvilova was clean im taking up ballett dancing she was one czech who didnt bounce
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby mump boy » Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:55 am

this was from a few years ago, now we have to add Christine and Jess

i'm in 2 minds about Paula , her dominance is unparrelled but i think you have to have some hardware to be considered the greatest. My vote probably goes to Sally from

Paula
Kelly (could easily have been the best if she had't been injured so often)
Denise (great consistency but was only really world best 2 times)
Tessa, (olympic gold and great longevity but never dominant)
Fatima (world champ and WR to go with OG silver and bronze but Tessa 'only' 7 years competing against Tessa 20+)
Liz, (WC Gold andOG Silver i think she could have run faster and didn't fulfil potential at marathon)
Jess (total dominamce for 2 years but she needs more for a higher ranking)
Christine ( amazing champs record but she has never been world number 1)
Kathy ( world, european and OG medals agains all time greats UK records that have stood for decades i could quite easily be persuaded to put her a whole lot higher)
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby SteveK26 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:14 pm

I'd put Kathy Smallwood-Cook right at the top.
She may not have the big G at world or Olympic level, but she was competing in an unfair arena more so than anyone else imo.
She was awesome in all three of her events, and relays as well. Who else has more medals at majors than her?

Jess Ennis may supercede them all in time.
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby d pickup » Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:23 am

SteveK26 wrote:I'd put Kathy Smallwood-Cook right at the top.
She may not have the big G at world or Olympic level, but she was competing in an unfair arena more so than anyone else imo.
She was awesome in all three of her events, and relays as well. Who else has more medals at majors than her?

Jess Ennis may supercede them all in time.


SteveK26

Yes there was an anomolous state of affairs in the 80s for Kathy, and yes I hope, like you, that Jess will stun the world again and again in the next year or two and some, but meanwhile, by a street, or is it 2, 3, 4 ... streets, it is Paula for me, and still 3 minutes + clear 8 years on notwithstanding the E AFR excellence and threatening excellence from JPN & CHN.
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby waterjump » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:03 pm

You have got to be having a laugh!!

Paula Radcliffe leading with Kelly Holmes way down the pack? What is every athletes dream? - Olympic Gold.
How many Olympic medals does Radclifffe have - none.
End of story and only one winner.
No amount of World Records, World Champs, European or Commonwealth Golds can equal winning THE Big G.
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby d pickup » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:03 am

waterjump wrote:You have got to be having a laugh!!

Paula Radcliffe leading with Kelly Holmes way down the pack? What is every athletes dream? - Olympic Gold.
How many Olympic medals does Radclifffe have - none.
End of story and only one winner.
No amount of World Records, World Champs, European or Commonwealth Golds can equal winning THE Big G.


waterjump
Fair enough, and some lean towards medals, others to records; I'm a records man myself, always have been always will be.
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby mump boy » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:12 am

waterjump wrote:You have got to be having a laugh!!

Paula Radcliffe leading with Kelly Holmes way down the pack? What is every athletes dream? - Olympic Gold.
How many Olympic medals does Radclifffe have - none.
End of story and only one winner.
No amount of World Records, World Champs, European or Commonwealth Golds can equal winning THE Big G.


Sally Gunnel easily beats everyone as far as i'm concerned she has all the champs plus WR nobody else comes close
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby SteveK26 » Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:21 pm

I'd say Paula is a non-starter as a contender simply because she has no real excuses for her major champs failures. (I hope she puts that right in London).
Sally Gunnell is a good call; she did indeed dominate her event and won everything.

Kathy had no real chance of winning the majors, considering who she was up against. She was an awesome athlete over a long period (even though she retired relatively young) . Twenty five years on we have an Olympic Champion who has yet to break her 400 record. Her 200 record remains out of sight to any current British athlete, and quite frankly she probably still holds the 100 record. From a medals perspective she was simply born in the wrong era.
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby trickstat » Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:00 am

If Olympic golds are everything then Peter Rono ranks higher on a list of greatest ever 1500 runners than Steve Cram!

I am amused/bemused by the comments made a few years ago about Sally Gunnell's achievement in a new, "soft" event. Her 1993 World Record still puts her sixth on the world all-time list.
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby SteveK26 » Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:41 am

I agree with Trickstat.
In any analysis such as this, Olympic gold is of course important but not the be all and end all.
Which is how I can put forward an athlete who never won the Olympics; had she done so it would, of course,have enhanced her claims .
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby d pickup » Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:04 am

SteveK26 wrote:I'd say Paula is a non-starter as a contender simply because she has no real excuses for her major champs failures. (I hope she puts that right in London).


SteveK26
'No real excuses' - Wow! Doesn't 'injury' count.
'04 Olympics 'she suffered an injury to her leg just two weeks prior to the event and had to use a high dose of anti-inflammatory drugs. This had an adverse effect on her stomach hindering food absorption. She ended up withdrawing from the race after 36 km'
'08 Olympics 'cramped during the marathon to the point where she had to stop running and stretch. She resumed the race and finished in 23rd place overall'
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby SteveK26 » Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:57 am

DP
In my opinion cramping up is not an injury as such. The marathon is such a gruelling event only the strong survive. If you cramp thats part of the test, and she failed. She didn't cramp in all the marathons she won.
That may sound harsh, but its not an intended insult to Paula. I just don't think cramping can be viewed as injury.

Paula has been a great athlete without a shadow of a doubt, and I truely hope she wins in London. However her track career led to no world or Olympic titles either, and I dont think we can put that down to her rivals being on drugs.

A great athlete? undoubtedly. The best Briish female athlete of the last 25 years? Maybe, maybe not.

Its all just about opinions, anyway.
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby chaz_78 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:40 pm

All great athletes but in my opinion it would be Sally Gunnell, won all the titles available to her and held them all simultaneously, broke the WR in fine style and was the classiest, smoothest looking female 400m hurdler EVER. She certainly did not compete in a 'weak' era beating the likes of Flintoff-King, Farmer-Patrick, Ledovskaya, Batten & Hemmings to win her titles and was also our best relay runner of that era too.
Paula's Olympic trials and tribulations and lack of activity over the last few years seem to have clouded her amazing achievements but she would be 2nd for me, followed by Kelly Holmes but as SteveK26 said it's all personal opinion
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby SteveK26 » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:45 am

Nobody could argue with Sally Gunnell's claim to top spot. Fabulous athlete who achieved every accolade and goal possible in her career. I'm also a big Paula fan, actually, and my previous comments should be taken in context. I hope she puts the Olympic record straight in 2012; London should be perfect for her if she can get herself in top shape.

Its just that I'm a huge Kathy Cook fan, and one who strongly feels she was slightly put in the shade by a vast army of dodgy East European athletes. I went to a lot of the major Championships when she got beat by cheats.
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Re:

Postby Dutch » Mon May 02, 2011 1:27 pm

sleady wrote:World Championships weren't held in athletics for any event until 1983!!

As many posters will know, the Olympics were explicitly designated by the IAAF as World Championships for many years before this.

1 trick pony as opposed to an athlete who's had success over road, cross, track and distances from 10k up to Marathon

Agreed.

Her one trick was pentathlon, where she was a winner at international level.
I mean long jump, where she was an outstanding junior.
I mean sprint hurdles, where she was CG champion. She has one gold and one silver in this event, narrowly beating Paula's CG haul.
I mean 400mH. She completed the grand slam and set an excellent world record.
I mean flat 400m. She won the European indoor championships, and the European cup outdoors.
I mean 400m relay running. She anchored teams to medals at both the OG & WC.

Not a patch on Paula's ability to run unimpeded with different things under her shoes.
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby Exile » Mon May 09, 2011 4:51 pm

It amuses me slightly that posters talk about Kathy Cook/Smallwood and can state quite categorically that she was up against drug fuelled performances but that she herself wasn't taking anything. I was only born in 1980, but from what I read and hear from friends and wise old heads, the whole sport was drug infested in the 80s and 90s. I have no doubt whatsoever that some athletes were indeed clean, but what makes us so certain that some of our British athletes weren't indulging?

Look at the facts. Everyone was on gear who Kathy was up against and taking drugs was seemingly the norm, her records last for years and years and have rarely been challenged, but our default view is that Kathy wasn't up to no good? I am certainly not accusing her of taking drugs, but I think rather than say for certain that she was clean and that everyone else wasn't, we're better off viewing her performances for what they were. Excellent, but not good enough to beat the athletes that she was up against at the time. I'd much rather put the case for athletes who actually won things, as impressive as KC/S's times were.
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Re: Greatest British Female Athlete of the last 25 years?

Postby SteveK26 » Mon May 09, 2011 9:32 pm

Exile
That is just about the most cynical post I have ever read; you might just as well say that Bolt is on drugs .

I CAN say that Kathy's rivals were on drugs, because we all know that the Eastern Block in the 80's state -sponsored doping.
To say that Kathy must/could have been on them as well is totally unfair. Her improvement was steady and her tall and rangy physique never became ''bulky'' as far as my recollection goes. She retired relatively young to start a family and like David Hemery before her, she was an icon of our sport. She should be up on a pedastal, not being smeared just because she was so much better than the other British sprinters.
Take your argument to its ultimate conclusion and you have a scenario where ANY gold medalist has to be on drugs. Call me naieve but I dont think that is the case.
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