Fatima Whitbread

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Fatima Whitbread
Fatima Whitbread 2.jpg
Personal information
Birth name Fatima Vedad
Born (1961-03-03) 3 March 1961 (age 53)
London, United Kingdom

Fatima Whitbread MBE (born Fatima Vedad; 3 March 1961) is a British former javelin thrower. She is a former world champion and world record holder. She won the 1986 European Championships in Stuttgart and the 1987 World Championships in Rome. She is also a two-time Olympic medallist, winning bronze at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Early life[edit]

Fatima Vedad[citation needed] was born in Stoke Newington, London,[1] to a Turkish Cypriot mother and Greek Cypriot father.[2] She grew up in a series of children's homes, occasionally being left in the care of her abusive biological mother. In a 2003 interview with The Observer, Whitbread said, "It was a nightmare of a childhood and it was only because I loved sport so much that I got through it and met my true mother."[2]

At the age of 14 she was adopted by the Whitbread family and spent her teenage years in Chadwell St Mary, Essex. Margaret Whitbread, her javelin coach, had offered to take her in when she realised that Fatima was spending a lot of time with her family.[2] She attended Dilkes County Primary School and the Culverhouse Secondary School (now the Ockendon Academy), both in South Ockendon, Essex, then Torells School, Grays following her adoption.[3]


She broke the javelin world record with a throw of 77.44m in the qualifying round of the 1986 European Championships in Athletics (where she also won the final) and became World Champion in 1987. She became well known in the UK for her celebratory wiggle after defeating arch-rival Petra Felke in these events. Her performances in 1987 led to her being voted winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.[4]

Whitbread had won the silver medal at the inaugural World Championships in 1983. She was also known for her rivalry with fellow British javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson, who won the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles with Whitbread finishing in bronze medal position. In the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Whitbread won the silver medal behind Petra Felke, who had broken the world record in the interim.[citation needed]

She is a one-time governor of King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, Essex. According to a November 2008 Daily Express article, she owns her own company and is involved with the stadium being used after the 2012 Summer Olympics.[specify][5]

Personal life[edit]

In 1997, Whitbread married Andrew Norman in Copthorne, West Sussex.[6] They had a son, Ryan, who was born in the late 1990s. The couple divorced in 2006 after she discovered he was having an affair.[7] Andrew Norman, who represented many athletes professionally, died of a heart attack in 2007.[8]

In media[edit]

She took part in a celebrity version of the TV show Total Wipeout which aired on 26 December 2009,[citation needed] and also in a celebrity version of the Channel 4 TV show Come Dine with Me which aired on 2 September 2011.[9] Fatima appeared on a Christmas version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, on 19 December 2011, with Russell Watson playing for charity. It is reported that Fatima has been hired as This Morning's new fitness expert[10] and will make her first appearance on 5 January 2012. Fatima appeared, partnering Sharron Davies, in the BBC1 TV quiz show Pointless Celebrities which aired on 26 May 2012. On 21 July 2012, she was a contestant on an Olympians special edition of ITV's game show The Cube.

I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here![edit]

She took part in the ITV show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! which started airing from Sunday 13 November 2011.[11] Both she and fellow camp mate Antony Cotton left after 21 days on 2 December 2011, she took third place ahead of Cotton.


  1. ^ United Kingdom Athletics. "Fatima Whitbread". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Triumph and despair: Fatima Whitbread", The Observer
  3. ^ Daily Mail Weekend Interview. 7 April 2012, p6
  4. ^ BBC Sports Personality of the Year 1987
  5. ^ Daily Express, 8 November 2008, Saturday Magazine supplement.
  6. ^ "Fatima fails in bid to be queen of jungle". East Grinstead Courier and Observer. This is Sussex. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2012. "....locals remembered the day she married Andrew Norman in Copthorne's St John's Church. [...] Fatima married her promoter and agent Andrew Norman in 1997, with the reception held at Copthorne Hotel Effingham Park." 
  7. ^ She's lost two stone
  8. ^ This Is Announcement (obituary)
  9. ^ "Come Dine With Me Athletics Special". Retrieved 3 September 2011. 
  10. ^ "Fatima Whitbread lands 'This Morning' fitness expert gig – I'm A Celebrity News – Reality TV". Digital Spy. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  11. ^ Revoir, Paul (9 November 2011). "Bushtucker trails should be a doodle for Freddie 'ate my Hamster' Starr as he heads Down Under with Lorraine Chase for I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 9 November 2011. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
East Germany Petra Felke
Women's Javelin Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
East Germany Petra Felke