Shirley Thomas (athlete)

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Shirley Thomas
Medal record
Women's athletics
Competitor for  United Kingdom
World Championships
Silver 1983 Helsinki 4x100 m relay
European Championships
Silver 1982 Athens 4x100 m relay

Shirley Thomas (born 15 June 1963) is a former British sprinter who competed mainly in the 100 metres and 4 x 100 metres relay. She won a silver medal in the relay at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki. She also competed at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.


In 1981, at the European Junior Championships in Utrecht, Thomas won a silver medal in the 100 metres behind the GDR's Kathrin Bohme, running a wind-assisted 11.43 secs. She also finished sixth in the 200 m final.[1]

In 1982, still only 19, Thomas competed at the European Championships in Athens, where she anchored the British sprint relay quartet to a silver medal. Her teammates were, Wendy Hoyte, Kathy Cook (then Smallwood) and Beverley Callender.

At the inaugural World Championships in Helsinki in 1983, Thomas once again anchored Great Britain to a silver medal in the sprint relay, finishing behind the East Germans but managing to hold off the fast finishing Jamaicans, anchored by Merlene Ottey, 42.71 to 42.73. In the 100 metres, she ran 11.48 to reach the semi-finals.

Thomas earned Olympic selection in 1984. However, at the 100 metres in Los Angeles, she only managed to run 12.13 secs in her heat due to injury.[2] The injury also cost her the chance of an Olympic relay medal, with the British squad going on to win the bronze. Thomas's replacement was Simmone Jacobs.

At the time of her sprinting career, Thomas weighed 48 kg and was 1.60 m tall.[3]

Shirley Thomas' achievements occurred during the so-called Golden Era of British women's sprinting, made all the more remarkable as many of their rivals were on performance-enhancing drug programs.

Personal Bests

  • 100m 11.31 (+1.9) Hendon 03/07/1983 - ran a wind-assisted 11.13 (+3.8) Cmbrawn 27/05/1984[4]
  • 200m 23.36 (+0.4) Gateshead 10/06/1984 - ran a wind-assisted 23.14 (+2.1) Cmbrawn 29/05/1984[5]