Daley Thompson

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Daley Thompson
Daley Thomson 2007 Laureus day.jpg
Thompson at the Laureus Day in June 2007
Personal information
Full nameFrancis Morgan Ayodélé Thompson
Born (1958-07-30) 30 July 1958 (age 64)[1]
Notting Hill, London, England[1]
Height1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)[1]
Weight92 kg (203 lb)[1]
ClubEssex Beagles
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)Decathlon 8,847 points
CBE ribbon

Francis Morgan Ayodélé Thompson, CBE (born 30 July 1958[2]), better known as Daley Thompson, is a British former decathlete. He won the decathlon gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984, and broke the world record for the event four times. He was unbeaten in competition for nine years.[3]

With four world records, two Olympic gold medals, three Commonwealth titles, and wins in the World and European Championships, Thompson is considered by many to be one of the greatest decathletes of all time. Robert Chalmers described him as "the greatest all-round athlete this country [United Kingdom] has ever produced."[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Thompson was born in Notting Hill, London, the second son of a British Nigerian father, Frank Thompson, who ran a minicab firm, and Scottish mother, Lydia, from Dundee.[5][4] When Thompson was six, his father left home.[4] At seven years old, Lydia sent Thompson to Farney Close Boarding School, Bolney, Sussex, which he described as "a place for troubled children".[4] When Thompson was eleven or twelve, his father was shot dead in Streatham by the husband of a woman whom the father and a friend had dropped off.[4] Thompson's forename is a contraction of Ayodelé, a Yoruba word meaning "joy comes home".[4] Thompson's first ambition was to become a professional footballer, but he later switched his interests to athletics.[4]


Early career[edit]

Initially, he was a member of Haywards Heath Harriers, but when he returned to London in 1975 he joined the Newham and Essex Beagles Athletics club, training as a sprinter. He began to be coached by Bob Mortimer, who suggested he try for decathlon. He competed in his first decathlon later that year in Cwmbran, Wales, which he won along with his next competition. In 1976, he won the AAA title and was 18th at the Montréal Olympic Games. The following year, he won the European Junior title and in 1978 came the first of his three Commonwealth titles. In 1979, he failed to finish in his only decathlon of that year, but won the long jump at the UK Championships.

1980-1986 Breaking records[edit]

Thompson opened the 1980 Olympic season with a world decathlon record of 8,648 points at Götzis, Austria, in May,[6] and followed this by winning gold at the Moscow Olympics. After a quiet 1981 season, he was in top form in 1982; back at Götzis in May, he raised the world record to 8,730 points and then in September, at the European Championships in Athens, he took the record up to 8,774 points. The following month in Brisbane, Thompson took his second Commonwealth title.

In 1983, Thompson won the inaugural World Championships and became the first decathlete to hold a continental title, in his case the European title, and the World and Olympic titles simultaneously. He also became by virtue of his World title, the first athlete in any athletics event to hold Olympic, World, continental and Commonwealth Games titles in a single event simultaneously.

Thompson spent much of the summer of 1984 in California preparing for the defence of his Olympic title, with Jürgen Hingsen, the West German who had succeeded Thompson as the world record holder, expected to be a major threat. Thompson took the lead in the first event, a lead he never relinquished throughout the competition. It seemed that, by easing off in the 1,500 metres, he had missed tying the world record by just one point. When the photo-finish pictures were examined, however, it was found that Thompson should have been credited with one more point in the 110 metres hurdles so he had in fact, equalled Hingsen's record. Then when the new scoring tables were introduced, Thompson became the sole record holder once more with a recalculated score of 8,847 points – a world record that stood until 1992, when it was surpassed by the American athlete Dan O'Brien with a score of 8,891. Thompson's two victories in the Olympic decathlon are a feat shared only with the Americans Bob Mathias and Ashton Eaton. Thompson's 1984 performance is still the UK record. In 2002, Thompson's successful defence of his Olympic title was ranked number 34 on Channel 4's poll of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.[7]

1987-1990 Defeat and injury[edit]

Thompson won his third Commonwealth title in 1986 and also won another European Championship but after that he never quite recaptured the superlative form of earlier years. In 1987, he suffered his first decathlon defeat for nine years when he finished ninth in the World Championships, and at his fourth Olympics in Seoul in 1988 he finished fourth. He made the Commonwealth Games team for the fourth time in 1990, but was forced to withdraw because of injury.

Rivalry with Jürgen Hingsen[edit]

Thompson's rivalry with West German athlete Jürgen Hingsen was legendary in the sport throughout the 1980s. The pair constantly traded world records, but Thompson always had the upper hand in the major events, remaining undefeated in all competitions for nine years between 1978 and 1987.[3]

Promotional activities[edit]

Thompson was also well known for his appearances in commercials for the drink Lucozade in the 1980s.[8] Thompson's name was used for three officially licensed home computer games by Ocean Software in the 1980s: Daley Thompson's Decathlon, Daley Thompson's Supertest and Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge. He is also a brand ambassador for a travel agency network "Not Just Travel".[9]

After athletics[edit]

Thompson was forced to retire from athletics in 1992, due to a persistent hamstring injury. In the 1990s, he briefly played reserve team football for Mansfield Town and played one first-team game for Non-League side Stevenage F.C. before having a short spell at Non-League side Ilkeston F.C.

Thompson (third from left) standing next to Ed Moses at the 2006 Laureus Day held at the Ham Polo Club, London

He also worked as fitness coach for Wimbledon F.C. and Luton Town football clubs.[10] He also took part in motorsport, entering the Ford Credit Fiesta Challenge Championship in 1994.[11] Thompson worked as a fitness trainer and motivational speaker, as well as appearing at corporate events. In 1994 Thompson trained with Reading Football Club and even scored in a friendly against Leatherhead.[12]

Thompson was an ambassador for the London 2012 Summer Olympics, focusing during the bid stage on highlighting the benefits that hosting the Olympics would bring to education and sport in schools.[13] He also took part in the 2011 TV series Jamie's Dream School.[14]

In 2015, Thompson opened his own gym, Daley Fitness, located on Upper Richmond Road in London. In 2018, he joined Masterchef Gary Barnshaw and co founded DT10 Sports, creating & selling a range of low-sugar protein shakes and sports bars.[15]

Public persona[edit]

Thompson was a natural showman who endeared himself to the British public with his irreverent personality and anti-establishment attitude.[16] He won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 1982, and was appointed an MBE in the 1983 New Year Honours,[17] and promoted to the CBE in the 2000 New Year Honours.[18]

At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Thompson, who had just won his second Olympic decathlon gold medal, wore a T-shirt that read "IS THE WORLD'S SECOND GREATEST ATHLETE GAY?". United States sprinter Carl Lewis had been dealing with rumours of homosexuality and the shirt was regarded as being cruelly directed at Lewis. "The second athlete could be anybody, Carl Lewis, anybody" Thompson stated.[19]

In 2012, he was accused of Anti-Irish sentiment after commenting on live BBC TV that the creator of a misspelled tattoo "must have been Irish". The tattoo artist was actually American.[20][21][22]

In August 2014, Thompson was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian expressing their hope that Scotland would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom in September's referendum on that issue.[23]

In 2015, Thompson co-presented the mid morning show on talkSPORT once a week alongside Colin Murray until Murray quit the station the following year.

Personal life[edit]

Thompson has two children with his girlfriend Lisa, and three with ex-wife Tish.[10] Thompson has sporting sons Elliot and Alex. Elliot Thompson became the national decathlon champion at the 2022 British Athletics Championships. The title was won 46 years after Daley claimed his first national title. Alex plays rugby for the University of Bath and England Sevens.[24][25]


  1. ^ a b c d Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Daley Thompson". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 22 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Daley Thompson". 100Great Black Britons, com. Archived from the original on 3 October 2009. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Daley Thompson: 'I'd love to help British athletes. I'd be over the moon'". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Chalmers, Robert (27 July 2008). "The champion that time forgot: Why do we find it so hard to love Daley Thompson?". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 22 August 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  5. ^ Sugar, Bert Randolph (1997). The Sports 100: A Ranking of the Greatest Athletes of All Time. Carol Publishing Group. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-8065-1872-5.
  6. ^ "Daley Thompson 1980 Olympics". twitter.com. 1980.
  7. ^ "100 Greatest Sporting Moments – Results". London: Channel 4. 2002. Archived from the original on 4 February 2002. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  8. ^ Case Studies in Marketing. Pearson Education India. 2011. p. 21.
  9. ^ "Daley Thompson Becomes The Travel Franchise Brand Ambassador". The Travel Franchise. Archived from the original on 7 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Daley Thompson – The Bubble Burst – Where is he now?". The Bubble Burst. 30 July 1958. Archived from the original on 17 August 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  11. ^ "Ford Credit Fiesta Championship". Homepage.ntlworld.com. Archived from the original on 20 October 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  12. ^ Brewer, Mervyn (6 August 1994). "Daley Thompson". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 8 March 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Jane Cowmeadow Communications & Management: Daley Thompson". Jccm-uk.com. Archived from the original on 26 July 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  14. ^ "Jamie's Dream School – Expert Profiles – Daley Thompson". Channel 4. 14 February 2011. Archived from the original on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  15. ^ "Olympic legend Daley Thompson to join Kielder runners". Northumberland County Council. Archived from the original on 29 December 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  16. ^ White, Jim (26 July 2011). "London 2012 Olympics: Daley Thompson, the unappreciated hero of British athletics". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 26 May 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  17. ^ "No. 49212". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1982. p. 16.
  18. ^ "No. 55710". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1999. p. 11.
  19. ^ Geringer, Dan. "A Better Deal This Time? Carl Lewis hopes to add to his 1984 haul of four gold medals while shucking the image problems that reduced his market value". Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  20. ^ Couniham, Patrick (22 July 2012). "British legend makes anti Irish slur over Olympic torch bearer tattoo made in USA". Irish Central. Archived from the original on 25 July 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  21. ^ "London 2012: Daley Thompson accused of racism after Irish gag on One Show". Daily Telegraph. 22 July 2012. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  22. ^ Breslin, Shane (22 July 2012). "So the joke's on Daley Thompson after that 'Irish tattooist' gag". JOE. Archived from the original on 26 July 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  23. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". The Guardian. London. 7 August 2014. Archived from the original on 17 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  24. ^ Broadbent, Rick. "Elliot Thompson: Brains? They probably come from my mum".
  25. ^ Bloom, Ben (17 July 2022). "Daley and Elliot Thompson: 'My dad's done more than Farah or Wiggins – why hasn't he got a knighthood?'". The Telegraph.

External links[edit]