|Competitor for United Kingdom|
|Silver||Tokyo 1964||4x400 metres relay|
|Gold||Belgrade 1962||400 metres|
|Silver||Belgrade 1962||4x400 metres relay|
Brightwell was born in Rawalpindi, British India, but moved to the UK with his family in 1946 and grew up in Donnington, Shropshire. He gained his athletic training at Shrewsbury Technical College and went on to become a sportsmaster at Tiffin Boys' School school in Surrey, England.
He was known for his quarter-mile running races, with his first major race taking place during 1961. He broke the British record for 440 yards as well as the European 400 metres record .
During the Olympic Games held in Tokyo 10 to 24 October 1964, he was captain of the men's British Olympic Team. Running the final stage in the men's 4 x 400 metres relay, he passed Wendell Mottley of Trinidad & Tobago to finish second to Henry Carr of the USA. In the individual 400 metres he finished 4th.
His fiancée at that time was Ann Packer who won a gold medal in the women's 800 metres (run) on the day after the men's individual 400 metres final. After winning a silver medal in the 400 metres Ann Packer had no plans to run in the 800 metres and had a shopping trip planned until Brightwell's disappointing 400 metres. She said she ran it for him and broke the world record in the process.
The captaincy of the British Team and his silver medal was the climax of his career. Aged only 24 years early in 1964 he announced that he would retire after the Olympic Games. He and Ann were each awarded the MBE in 1965.
On 19 December 1964 he married Ann Packer. Robbie and Ann are the parents of three sons: Gary, and two former Manchester City players Ian and David. Robbie went into teaching before moving to lecture at the then Loughborough College and before taking up successive directorships with sports companies Adidas UK and Le Coq Sportif UK. He also ran a fishing tackle business for thirty years. He lives with Ann in Congleton, Cheshire.