Denise Lewis

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Denise Lewis
Denise Lewis (cropped).jpg
Personal information
Born (1972-08-27) 27 August 1972 (age 42)
Height 1.73 metres (5 ft 8 in)
Weight 64 kilograms (141 lb)
Country  England
 Great Britain
Sport Heptathlon
Club Birchfield Harriers
Coached by Charles van Commenee
Retired 2005

Denise Lewis OBE (born 27 August 1972, in West Bromwich, England) is a retired British athlete, who specialised in the heptathlon. She won the gold medal in the heptathlon at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Lewis was honoured as Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2000 New Year Honours. Since retiring from athletics she has undertaken various television and media work, and is now a regular athletics pundit for BBC Television, including during London 2012.

Athletics career[edit]

2000 Olympics[edit]

The first day of the 2000 Summer Olympics heptathlon was 23 September. In the first event, Lewis recorded 13.23 seconds[2] for the 100 metres hurdles to be in second place behind the world champion, Eunice Barber, who had finished in 12.97 seconds. Ghada Shouaa, the 1996 Olympic champion, pulled-out after only 20 metres of her heat.

After a poor performance in the high jump of only 1.75 m,[2] some way off her personal best, Lewis was in eighth place, 152 points behind Barber who had increased her lead. In the third event, the shot put, Lewis recorded a distance of 15.55 m,[2] placing her second. 30 points behind Natallia Sazanovich and 45 points ahead of former world champion Sabine Braun. Barber's distance of 11.27 m put her in eighth place.

In the final event of the day, the 200 metres, Lewis recorded a time of 24.34 sec.[2] Sabine Braun's time placed her in sixth position. A strong run by Natalya Roshchupkina moved her from sixth position to second, pushing Lewis into third place.

At the end of the first day, the points scored were:

  1. Natallia Sazanovich, BLR: 3903
  2. Natalya Roshchupkina, RUS: 3872
  3. Denise Lewis, GBR: 3852
  4. Urszula Włodarczyk, POL: 3805
  5. Yelena Prokhorova, RUS: 3771
  6. Sabine Braun, GER: 3770
  7. Eunice Barber, FRA: 3707
  8. Karin Specht-Ertl, GER: 3697

The first event on the second day was the long jump. Lewis's best jump was 6.48 m,[2] marginally behind Yelena Prokhorova and Sazanovich. Eunice Barber, struggling with injury, withdrew after this event. In event six, the javelin, Lewis achieved a throw of 50.19 m.[2] With her closest rivals some way further back she moved into first place, with Sazanovich 63 points behind in second place and Prokhorova in third a further 83 points behind.

In the final event, the 800 metres, Lewis ran with the lower part of her left leg bandaged for a calf and Achilles tendon injury, aiming to stay close enough to the race leaders to maintain her points advantage.[2] Prokhorova won the race convincingly and when Lewis crossed the line behind Sazanovich it was not, at first, clear if Lewis's time of 2:16.83 was enough to retain first place.[2] After the individual points had been calculated, it was announced, that Lewis had won with a total of 6584 points.[2] Prokhorova was second with 6531 (53 points behind Lewis) and Sazanovich was third with 6527 (4 points behind Prokhorova).[2]

2004 Olympics[edit]

At the 2004 Olympics, Lewis was suffering from a number of injuries and withdrew from the competition after the long jump.[2] Team-mate and training partner Kelly Sotherton took bronze.

Personal bests[edit]

  • 100 m hurdles – 13.13 seconds
  • 200 m – 24.10 seconds
  • 800 m – 2 min 12.20 seconds
  • High jump – 1.87 m
  • Long jump – 6.69 m
  • Shot put – 16.12 m
  • Javelin – 51.48 m
  • Heptathlon – 6831 points Talence, France 2000

Awards and recognition[edit]

OBE ribbon

In the 2000 New Year Honours, Lewis was promoted to Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE),[3] having already been appointed MBE in the 1999 New Year Honours.

In 2000 she was also presented with the Freedom of the City of Wolverhampton.

In 2011, Lewis was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame.

Alongside Dame Kelly Holmes, Christine Ohuruogu and Paula Radcliffe, Lewis enjoys acclamation as one of the current "golden girls" of British athletics and has twice,in 1998 and 2000, been runner up in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. In 2003 Lewis was put forward as a candidate in the BBC Midlands great midlander of all-time award but lost out to eventual winner Reginald Mitchell the inventor of the Supermarine Spitfire.

Lewis won the Sports Journalists' Association "Sportswoman of the Year" in 1997, 1998 and 2000, a record three times, while also being runner up in 1996.[4] Lewis won the British Athletics Writers' Association "Female Athlete of the Year" four times.[5] She won the Sunday Times "Sportswoman of the Year" a record three times, winning it in 1994, 1998 and 2000.

Her British and Commonwealth record of 6831 points was set on 30 July 2000 in Talence, France.[2] As of 2013, she ranks 15th in the Heptathlon all time list.

In 2002, her Olympic victory was ranked 90th in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.

In 2010, Denise Lewis was made a Patron of the Jaguar Academy of Sport.[6]

After athletics[edit]

Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

In 2004, Lewis took part in the BBC dancing competition, Strictly Come Dancing. She was partnered alongside professional dancer Ian Waite, and in the first few weeks scored the highest number of points with the judges. She didn't achieve her tongue-in-cheek ambition of a foxtrot round the dance floor with the IOC President, Jacques Rogge. She eventually reached the final and was runner-up to actress Jill Halfpenny. After this she and the two other partners from the final danced at the Royal Variety Performance.

About 10 days after competing in the final of Strictly Come Dancing, Denise and Ian competed again in the Strictly Come Dancing Champion of Champions Special, where the finalists from both series of the contest competed against each other. Denise received the most points from the judges, but she once again became the runner up of the contest, Jill Halfpenny winning overall.

She again revisited the role for the BBC's charitable fund-raiser Let's Dance for Comic Relief in 2009, reaching the final of the competition.


Since 2009, Lewis has acted as a pundit for BBC Sport's athletics coverage and she has covered major live events including the 2009 World Athletics Championships, 2010 Commonwealth Games, 2012 Summer Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Camp Orange (UK)[edit]

Lewis now hosts Camp Orange. Season 1 premiered on 22 July 2011.

Personal life[edit]

Lewis married Steve Finan O'Connor in 2006, former manager of the UK pop group All Saints and son of comedian Tom O'Connor. She has three children: Lauryn, Ryan and Kane.

She was educated at The Regis School in Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, later to become The King's School (Church of England). A £1 million sports hall was later built there and named in her honour.

She played on All Star Family Fortunes broadcast on 29 November 2009 with her husband, mum, stepson Joe O'Connor, and best friend. She went on to win £10,000 for her chosen charity: The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust.

In July 2011, she appeared on a celebrity edition of the BBC One gameshow Pointless with her father-in-law, Tom O'Connor. They reached the final, eventually winning £500 for charity.

In 2012, she took part in a celebrity edition of The Cube on ITV, taking £10,000 for her charity.

In 2013, Lewis took part in a new entertainment show Your Face Sounds Familiar on ITV.

In March 2014, she appeared on Big Star's Little Star with her son Ryan who plays for Watford.


  1. ^ "Commonwealth Youth Games". Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Denise Lewis". UK Retrieved 10 July 2008. 
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56070. pp. 9–12. 11 July 2008.
  4. ^ "Past winners of the SJA British Sports Awards". Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Farah and Ennis named British Athletes of the Year". Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Jaguar Academy of Sport. "Homepage". 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Germany Sabine Braun
Women's Heptathlon Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
France Eunice Barber
Preceded by
Christopher Parker and Hanna Karttunen
Strictly Come Dancing runner up
(with partner Ian Waite)

Series 2 (2004)
Succeeded by
Colin Jackson and Erin Boag