Ann Packer in 1964
|Born||8 March 1942 (age 73)
Moulsford, Oxfordshire, England
|Height||1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|Weight||57 kg (126 lb)|
|Event(s)||200 m, 400 m, 800 m, hurdles, long jump|
|Club||Reading Athletic Club|
|Achievements and titles|
|Personal best(s)||200 m – 23.8 (1964)
400 m – 52.20 (1964)
800 m – 2:01.1 (1964)
Ann Elizabeth Packer MBE (born 8 March 1942) is an English former sprinter, hurdler and long jumper. She won a gold medal in the 800 metres and a silver in the 400 metres at the 1964 Summer Olympics.
In 1959 Packer won the English Schools 100 yards title. Next year she competed internationally in the long jump. In 1962, she reached the finals in the 200 metres at the European Championships and in the 80 metres hurdles at the Commonwealth Games; she was also part of the 4 × 110 yards relay team that won two medals at these competitions. In 1963 she focused on the 400 metres, and already by her fourth 400 m race ran a world-level time of 53.6 seconds.
When she was selected for the 1964 British Olympic team Packer worked as a physical education teacher at Coombe County Girls' School, New Malden, Surrey. At the Olympics she shared a room with long jump gold medallist Mary Rand. Packer was hoping to win the 400 metres, but was beaten into second place by Betty Cuthbert of Australia, despite setting a new European record at 52.0 seconds. Disappointed, Packer planned to skip the 800 m eevnt and had a shopping trip instead, until her fiancé, Robbie Brightwell convinced her to compete. Before the Olympics, Packer only had five domestic 800 m races; she had taken up a longer distance to improve her stamina, and earned the third British spot at the last minute.
In her heat and semi-final Packer finished fifth and third, running 2:12.6 and 2:06.0 respectively, being beaten by French runner Maryvonne Dupureur, clocking 2:04.5 and 2:04.5. She thus started the final the slowest of the eight contestants, having raced at the distance only seven times before. Packer was sixth at 400 m, lying behind Dupureur, she was third at 600 m and took the lead in the final straight, using her sprinting speed to take the gold. She broke the world record with a time of 2:01.1 minutes. Commenting on her win, Packer said "Middle-distance running for women was still in its infancy and the 800m had only been run in Rome four years earlier for the first time. I knew nothing about the event but being so naive was probably to my advantage; it meant I did not have any limitations in my head regarding what I should or could do. Ignorance proved to be bliss."
After winning the gold medal, she announced her retirement at the age of 22 and so had one of the shortest athletics careers of any Olympic gold medallist. It would be another forty years before another British woman, Kelly Holmes, would win the 800 m, despite British men being successful at the distance.
Later in the same Games, Brightwell won a silver medal in the 4×400 m relay. They later married and had three sons, Gary, a 400 m runner like his mother, and Ian and David, the latter two becoming footballers with Manchester City. She and Robbie were each appointed MBEs in 1965. Packer now lives in Congleton in Cheshire.
In 1966 Packer appeared in an experiment for the BBC TV history programme, Chronicle to see how far geese could walk in a day. She was chosen because however far the geese went, she would still be with them at the end.
- Ann Packer. sports-reference.com
- Sachin Nakrani (4 May 2012). "50 stunning Olympic moments No 27: Ann Packer wins 800m in 1964". The Guardian.
- Ann Packer. The Times.
- Chronicle. Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved on 2015-06-22.
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|Women's 800 metres World Record Holder
1964-10-20 – 1967-06-28