Colin Jackson

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Colin Jackson
Athletissima 2012 - Colin Jackson.jpg
Colin Jackson
Personal information
Born (1967-02-18) 18 February 1967 (age 56)[1]
Cardiff, Wales
Height1.82 m (5 ft 11+12 in)
Weight75 kg (165 lb; 11.8 st)
SportRunning, hurdling
ClubBrecon Athletics Club

Colin Ray Jackson, CBE (born 18 February 1967) is a Welsh former sprint and hurdling athlete who specialised in the 110 metres hurdles. During a career in which he represented Great Britain and Wales, he won an Olympic silver medal,[2] became world champion twice, world indoor champion once, was undefeated at the European Championships for 12 years and was twice Commonwealth champion. His world record of 12.91 seconds for the 110 m hurdles stood for over 10 years and his 60 metres hurdles world record stood for nearly 27 years.[3]


Jackson won his first major medal, a silver, in the 110 m hurdles, aged 19 at the 1986 Commonwealth Games. He soon established himself on the global scene, taking bronze at the 1987 World Championships in Athletics and a silver medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics. After winning another silver in the 60 m hurdles at the 1989 IAAF World Indoor Championships, he won European and Commonwealth gold medals in 1990. The 1993 season saw him reach the pinnacle of his sport: after a silver at the 1993 Indoor Worlds, he set a world record of 12.91 seconds to become the 1993 World Champion. This record was unbeaten for almost 13 years and remains the world championship record. Jackson was part of the British 4×100 metres relay team which won the world silver medal.

This period was Jackson's most successful: he had a streak of 44 races undefeated between 1993 and 1995. In addition to European and Commonwealth golds outdoors in 1994, he set another world record, running 7.30 seconds in the 60 m hurdles. A double gold at the 1994 European Athletics Indoor Championships in the 60 m hurdles and sprint events saw him set a European record of 6.49 seconds over 60 m. Injury affected his 1995–1996 seasons and he finished only fourth at the 1996 Olympics. He returned to competition in 1997 and took silver twice – at the Indoor World Championships and the World Outdoors. After winning the European Championships for a third consecutive time in 1998 he became indoor and outdoor World champion in 1999. He finished fifth at the 2000 Summer Olympics and his last major medals came in 2002, taking European indoor and outdoor gold and a Commonwealth silver.

After a period of sports management and coaching, he now works as a sports commentator for athletics and as a television presenter (predominantly for the BBC). He is a well-known face on British television, having been on Strictly Come Dancing in 2005, as well as a number of other entertainment and factual TV programmes.

Early life[edit]

Jackson, born in Cardiff, South Wales, is of Jamaican Maroon, Taíno, and Scottish ancestry.[4] He is the brother of actress Suzanne Packer who played Tess Bateman in the BBC One hospital drama Casualty. Jackson grew up in Birchgrove, attending Springwood Primary School and then Llanedeyrn High School. He played football and cricket for the county and rugby union and basketball for his school and joined the athletics club Birchgrove Harriers, which nurtured his talent. As captain of his school cricket team, he and four team-mates were invited to trials for the Welsh national cricket team: whilst his team-mates were all picked, Jackson was passed over – he attributed this to racism, and has said it resulted in him quitting the sport and focusing on athletics, as "athletics had more people that looked like me".[5] Jackson has also stated he felt discriminated against by British Athletics for selections and sponsorship. He said: "I felt the discrimination was because I was Welsh more than anything else."[6]

Athletics career[edit]

Under coach and close friend Malcolm Arnold, Jackson started out as a promising decathlete before switching to high hurdles. He won gold at the 1986 World Junior Championships and he soon switched to the senior ranks. Following a silver medal in the 1986 Commonwealth Games, he won the 110m hurdles silver at the 1988 Olympic Games behind Roger Kingdom. Although his career as an active competitor in the event would last a further fifteen years, the last ten of these as world record holder, and see him twice crowned World Champion, twice Commonwealth Champion and four times European Champion, this would remain his only Olympic medal of any colour. In 1992 he eased through his first round heat in 13.10 s (which proved faster than the Gold-medal winning time) but was restricted by an injury he picked up during the next round and could only finish seventh in the final, and in 1996 he came fourth and in 2000, fifth.

He set his world record for the 110 metres hurdles on 20 August 1993, winning his first World Championships gold medal in Stuttgart, Germany in 12.91 s. The new mark (also a championship record) shaved 0.01 s off the previous record held by Kingdom and stood for nearly thirteen years, only being equalled by Liu Xiang in the 2004 Summer Olympics and finally beaten by the same man on 11 July 2006 at the Super Grand Prix in Lausanne with a time of 12.88 s. Jackson remained the sole holder of the indoor world record at the 60 metres hurdles with a time of 7.30 seconds set in Sindelfingen, Germany on 6 March 1994 until February 2021. At the 1994 European Indoor Championships he became a double European champion: winning in both the 60 metres hurdles and 60 metres sprint race as well. His 60 m dash time of 6.49 s was a European record, as well as a championship record. These records remained unbeaten for 5 years, when Jason Gardener ran 6.46 s in 1999 in Maebashi, Japan.

Jackson at the 2007 European Cup

The aforementioned achievements coincided with one of the high points of Jackson's career: he was unbeaten between 29 August 1993 and 9 February 1995. He won forty-four races consecutively in this period.[7] His winning time at the 1994 Commonwealth Games was a Commonwealth Games record.

Jackson was a master of the "dip" – the skill of leaning forward at the end of a race to advance the position of the shoulders and improve times (and potentially positions). He was also renowned for being a particularly fast starter, which led to a great deal of success in 60m events. Jackson's technical hurdling ability distinguished him from his peers whether they were faster than him or not.[citation needed]

He was the subject of controversy in 1998 when he decided to run for cash in Tokyo, Japan, rather than compete in the Commonwealth Games for Wales.

Six years after his first world title, Jackson regained his 110m hurdles crown at the 1999 Seville World Championships. This was to be his last gold medal at the very highest level, but he added a final, fourth successive European Championships gold in the 2002 Munich European Championships, extending an unbroken reign as European Champion stretching back to 1990.

Post-retirement career[edit]

Jackson at the 2007 Highland Games

Since ending his athletics career at the 2003 World Indoor Championships Jackson has been involved in numerous endeavours, in athletics and other areas. He coached his close friend the swimmer Mark Foster until Foster's retirement in April 2016. He has coached two of Wales best Olympic prospects, 400m runner Timothy Benjamin and 400m hurdler Rhys Williams. He was also one of the members of the successful London 2012 Olympic bid team and is a key member of the BBC's televisions athletics coverage. However, he started his broadcasting career in 2004 by co-hosting, with Sally Gunnell, the BBC reality TV programme Born to Win.

Already the holder of the MBE that he received in 1990 for his services to athletics, in 2000 he was promoted to OBE and then in 2003 to a CBE.[8]

The English reggae band Aswad name-checked him on their 1994 hit song "Shine": Him a floating like a butterfly, the hurdling man – Yes, me-a-chat about Colin Jackson.[citation needed]

Jackson has written three books: the first, The Young Track and Field Athlete, was published in March 1996 by Dorling Kindersley; his second, Colin Jackson: The Autobiography, was published in April 2004 by BBC Books; and his last, Life's New Hurdles, was published in March 2008 by Accent Press Ltd as part of the Quick Reads Initiative.

Since 2014 Jackson has been the race director of the Wings for Life World Run.[9]

In December 2018 it was announced that Jackson was to become Chancellor of Wrexham Glyndŵr University.[10]

In July 2022 he participated in the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay, carrying the baton into Basildon Sporting Village.[11]

Media career[edit]

After retiring from athletics, he became the face of BBC Raise Your Game with Colin Jackson in which he talked to high-profile international stars about the importance of learning. Participants included Luol Deng, Jenson Button, Davina McCall, and stars from Strictly Come Dancing, to name but a few.

His work as a BBC athletics commentator and pundit began with the 2004 Athens Olympics. Since then he has been a regular member of the BBC team covering athletics events.[12]

He is a Director of multimedia production company Red Shoes, along with fellow Director and former BBC Executive Producer Richard Owen. Their clients include the IAAF and UEFA.

Jackson at a charity event in 2005

Jackson, who is of Jamaican descent, was the subject of an episode of the BBC TV genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?,[13] broadcast in the UK on 20 September 2006. Genetic tests showed his ancestry to be 55% African, 7% Native American (believed to be from Jamaican Maroon ancestry on his father's side), and 38% European. His mother was born in Panama, the daughter of Richard Augustus Packer and Gladys McGowan Campbell. Gladys Campbell was from Jamaica, the daughter of a Scottish man Duncan Campbell and his housemaid Albertina Wallace.[14]

In March 2007 Jackson starred as the 'hidden celebrity' in an episode of the award-winning CBBC gameshow Hider in the House, hosted by JK and Joel.

In 2008, Jackson co-hosted, with Louise Minchin, the Sunday morning show Sunday Life on BBC One.

Colin Jackson appeared in the BBC One documentary The Making of Me on 31 July 2008, which attempted to find out what had made him such a talented athlete.[15] A sample of his leg muscle showed that he had 25% super-fast twitch fibres, when all previous athletes tested had only 2%. Family support was also thought to have been highly significant. Jamaicans are notable[according to whom?] for the high level of support and encouragement they give their children in the area of sports. One clip showed a stadium in Jamaica with 30,000 people cheering on children taking part in an average school sports meet. Supporters included their peers, who seemed happy to cheer on their classmates who were 'good at sports'. Although Jackson was brought up in the UK, he remembers his parents cheering on Don Quarrie in the 1976 Olympics, inspiring him to want to 'be like that'.[citation needed]

In 2009 Jackson shared his writing tips on the adult learning website "BBC raw words". He features in a comedy short with Nina Wadia, Rowland Rivron and Anneka Rice about structuring a story, and also shares his writing tips gained from writing Life's New Hurdles.[citation needed]

In July 2010, Jackson was a competitor on the BBC television programme Celebrity MasterChef.[citation needed]

In 2012 Jackson made a cameo appearance as himself in an episode of the UK TV comedy drama Stella. In 2015, he starred in the historical experience 24 Hours in the Past.

In February 2019 Jackson was inaugurated as a Chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University, after being awarded with an Honorary Fellowship in 2016 for his contribution to sport.[16]

Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

In 2005, he appeared as one of the celebrity contestants on the BBC TV series Strictly Come Dancing, where he came second with his dance partner Erin Boag, just losing out to cricketer Darren Gough. In 2006 Jackson became the first competitor who had not won the main series to win the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special.

Go Dad Run[edit]

In 2013 Jackson created his own charitable fundraising event for men, Go Dad Run. The purpose is to raise awareness of men's health issues and funds for male based charities Prostate Cancer UK, Bowel Cancer UK, Orchid and CALM plus local Cancer Care charities and hospices.[17] Ambassadors include Mark Foster, Donovan Bailey, Suzanne Packer, Fernando Montano, Siân Lloyd and Jamie Baulch.[citation needed]

Sport 4 Kids[edit]

Jackson CBE joined Sport4Kids (S4K) as their International Director and Brand Ambassador.[18][19]

Jackson holds special responsibilities for developing the S4K brand and help the mission to transform children's sport across the UK and international markets through the company's franchise network.[citation needed]

Iaith ar Daith[edit]

In 2020 Jackson joined other celebrities in a new S4C television series called Iaith ar Daith ('Language Road Trip') in which they take a crash course in the Welsh language while travelling around Wales. At the end of the series he was interviewed in Welsh.[20] The series was broadcast in April 2020.[21] An extra episode, Iaith ar Daith ‘Dolig ('Language Road Trip: Christmas') was broadcast at the end of 2020, interviewing each of the celebrities about whether they were still making use of their Welsh and the opportunities they had had to use Welsh during lockdown.[22]

Dancing on Ice[edit]

In 2021, Jackson participated in the thirteenth series of Dancing on Ice. He was partnered with Klabera Komini and finished in 3rd Place.[23]

Personal life[edit]

On 26 August 2017 Jackson came out as gay in a clip on Swedish television promoting the series "Rainbow Heroes".[24][25] Previously he had denied that he was gay both in his 2004 autobiography and in a 2008 interview with The Voice newspaper.[26]

International competitions[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Great Britain and  Wales
1985 European Indoor Championships Piraeus, Greece 10th (sf) 60 m hurdles 7.85
European Junior Championships Cottbus, East Germany 2nd 110 m hurdles 13.69
1986 World Junior Championships Athens, Greece 1st 110 m hurdles 13.44
Commonwealth Games Edinburgh, United Kingdom 2nd 110 m hurdles 13.42
1987 European Indoor Championships Liévin, France 2nd 60 m hurdles 7.63
World Indoor Championships Indianapolis, United States 4th 60 m hurdles 7.68
World Championships Rome, Italy 3rd 110 m hurdles 13.38
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea 2nd 110 m hurdles 13.28
1989 European Indoor Championships The Hague (Netherlands) 1st 60 m hurdles 7.59
World Indoor Championships Budapest, Hungary 2nd 60 m hurdles 7.45
World Cup Barcelona, Spain 2nd 110 m hurdles 12.95 (w)
1990 Commonwealth Games Auckland, New Zealand 1st 110 m hurdles 13.08
European Championships Split, Yugoslavia 1st 110 m hurdles 13.18
1991 World Championships Tokyo, Japan 2nd (h) 110 m hurdles 13.251
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain 7th 110 m hurdles 13.46
World Cup Havana, Cuba 1st 110 m hurdles 13.07
1993 World Indoor Championships Toronto, Canada 2nd 60 m hurdles 7.43
World Championships Stuttgart, Germany 1st 110 m hurdles 12.91
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 37.77
1994 European Indoor Championships Paris, France 1st 60 m 6.49
1st 60 m hurdles 7.41
Goodwill Games St. Petersburg, Russia 1st 110 m hurdles 13.29
Commonwealth Games Victoria, Canada 1st 110 m hurdles 13.08
European Championships Helsinki, Finland 1st 110 m hurdles 13.08
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 4th 110 m hurdles 13.19
1997 World Indoor Championships Paris, France 2nd 60 m hurdles 7.49
World Championships Athens, Greece 2nd 110 m hurdles 13.05
1998 Goodwill Games Uniondale, United States 4th 110 m hurdles 13.17
European Championships Budapest, Hungary 1st 110 m hurdles 13.02
World Cup Johannesburg, South Africa 2nd 110 m hurdles 13.11
1999 World Indoor Championships Maebashi, Japan 1st 60 m hurdles 7.38
World Championships Seville, Spain 1st 110 m hurdles 13.04
2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 5th 110 m hurdles 13.28
2001 Goodwill Games Brisbane, Australia 5th 110 m hurdles 13.63
2002 European Indoor Championships Vienna, Austria 1st 60 m hurdles 7.40
Commonwealth Games Manchester, United Kingdom 2nd 110 m hurdles 13.39
European Championships Munich, Germany 1st 110 m hurdles 13.11
2003 World Indoor Championships Birmingham, United Kingdom 5th 60 m hurdles 7.61

1Did not start in the semifinals

Personal bests



  1. ^ Richard Dale; Colin Cameron (August 1994). The contenders. Boxtree. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-7522-0948-7.
  2. ^ "Colin JACKSON". Retrieved 30 November 2021.
  3. ^ 60 Metres Hurdles Records. IAAF (24 February 2021). Retrieved on 24 February 2021.
  4. ^ Who Do You Think You Are – Colin Jackson. BBC Sport. Retrieved on 18 June 2009.
  5. ^ McGregor, Nesta (27 June 2020). "'Change is coming' - Tommie Smith backs sports stars making anti-racism stand". Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  6. ^ "Colin Jackson: "The discrimination [I felt] was actually because I was Welsh..."". BBC. 15 February 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  7. ^ Cram, Steve (2001). Colin Jackson captures the world record Archived 12 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine. BBC Sport. Retrieved on 1 September 2009.
  8. ^ "BBC SPORT | Athletics | Jackson receives CBE". BBC News. 10 December 2003. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  9. ^ "Join the Wings for Life World Run, May 6, 2018". Archived from the original on 6 April 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Colin Jackson to be Wrexham Glyndwr University chancellor". BBC News. 11 December 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  11. ^ Day-Parker, Jessica (8 July 2022). "Star athlete Colin Jackson carries Queen's baton into Basildon for Commonwealth relay". Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  12. ^ "BBC - World Athletics Championships - BBC commentators - Media Centre".
  13. ^ "BBC ONE Autumn 2006". BBC. 18 July 2006.
  14. ^ Nick Barratt, WDYTYA? Series three: Celebrity gallery – Colin Jackson, BBC History, 20 September 2006, accessed 27 September 2006
  15. ^ "BBC One – The Making of Me, Colin Jackson". 22 August 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  16. ^ "Colin Jackson is university chancellor". BBC News. 15 February 2019.
  17. ^ "Why I created Go Dad Run, by Colin Jackson, CBE". Archived from the original on 6 May 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  18. ^ Jones, Steve (20 September 2016). "World Champion And Former Olympic Medalist Colin Jackson Joins Sport4Kids" – via Sports 4 Kids.
  19. ^ Jones, Steve (20 September 2016). "Colin Jackson Joins Sport4Kids". Archived from the original on 21 December 2021 – via Sports 4 Kids.
  20. ^ "Colin Jackson jumps at the chance of learning Welsh". S4C. 31 January 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  21. ^ Lucinda Reid (13 April 2020). "Meet the celebrities learning Welsh". WalesOnline. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  22. ^ "Iaith ar Daith 'Dolig" [Language Road Trip: Christmas]. Boom Cymru. Archived from the original on 31 January 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  23. ^ Storey, Katie (14 March 2021). "Dancing On Ice 2021: Colin Jackson finishes in third place after perfect scores". Metro. Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  24. ^ Davies, Caroline (28 August 2017). "Olympic medallist Colin Jackson announces he is gay". The Guardian.
  25. ^ "Colin Jackson: Phenomenal athlete who came out at 50". The Guardian. 2 September 2017.
  26. ^ "Colin Jackson: Phenomenal athlete who came out at 50". 2 September 2017.
  27. ^ Colin Jackson. IAAF. Retrieved on 26 July 2014.


  • Colin Jackson: The Autobiography (BBC Books, 2003)

External links[edit]