Sheila Sherwood

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Olympic medal record
Women's Athletics
Silver 1968 Mexico City Long jump

Sheila Sherwood (born Sheila Hilary Parkin, 22 October 1945 in Parson Cross, Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England) is a former international Long jumper whose career highlights included a silver medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, and a gold medal at the 1970 British Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. She competed in three consecutive Summer Olympic Games (1964, 1968 and 1972) and had a career best distance of 6.73 metres.

As a child, her parents were caretaker and head cook at St Thomas More School in nearby Grenoside. Sherwood attended Yew Lane Secondary Modern, where at the age of fifteen she was appointed as Head-Girl, and after a successful set of O-Level results, transferred to nearby Ecclesfield Grammar School to study for her A-Levels. She first came to prominence as an athlete as a 16 year old as a member of the Sheffield based Sheffield United Harriers athletic club and competing under her maiden name of Sheila Parkin, when she created an English Schools long jump record in the summer of 1962. On the strength of this she was selected to represent Great Britain against Poland in August 1962 where she finished second behind former world record holder Elzbieta Krzensinska by just 2 cm. This performance started Sheila’s long and distinguished career as an international long jumper as it resulted in selection for the 1962 European championships in Belgrade where she finished 12th and the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Western Australia where she achieved 5th position.

Sheila’s early career saw only a slight improvement in her jumping, she was eclipsed by fellow British jumper Mary Rand on many occasions. Rand took the gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games where Sheila only finished 13th. However, it was in Tokyo that Sheila met British hurdler John Sherwood and a romance began that was to result in marriage three years later. Sheila’s relationship with John coincided with a marked improvement in her jumping performances. She took the silver medal at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica behind Rand and at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City she took the silver medal behind the Romanian Viorica Viscopoleanu with a personal best leap of 6.68 metres.

Sheila took the gold medal at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh with a career best jump of 6.73 metres and finished fourth at the 1971 European Championships in Helsinki, however in her latter years in the sport she was hindered by back problems, despite this she was selected for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich where she finished a commendable ninth. Her career as an international long jumper came to a conclusion at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Auckland where she took seventh place. In the mid-1970s Sheila along with husband John helped form the breakaway Sheffield Athletic Club, which then amalgamated with Sheffield United Harriers to form Sheffield City Athletic Club. The club later changed its name to the City of Sheffield Athletic Club.

Sheila is the mother of British international tennis player David Sherwood who was born in 1980. After retiring from athletics she continued to work as a physical education teacher at Myers Grove Comprehensive School in Sheffield.

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