Shirley Strong

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Shirley Strong
Personal information
Born18 November 1958
Medal record
Women's athletics
Representing  Great Britain
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 1984 Los Angeles 100 m hurdles
Representing  England
Commonwealth Games
Gold medal – first place 1982 Brisbane 100m hurdles
Silver medal – second place 1978 Edmonton 100m hurdles

Shirley Elaine Strong (née Strong, born 18 November 1958) is a British former athlete who competed mainly in the 100 metres hurdles. In this event, she won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, a gold medal at the 1982 Commonwealth Games, and a silver medal at the 1978 Commonwealth Games. She also held the British record from 1980 to 1988.

Personal life[edit]

Strong was born in Cuddington, Cheshire and remained in the village throughout her career. She has two daughters and lives in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire.[1]


Strong began her national career in 1977 with second placings in the 100 metres hurdles at both the AAA Championships and the UK Athletics Championships, achieving second place again in 1978 at both championships. Between 1979 and 1984, she won six consecutive golds at the AAA Championships and was UK Champion in 1979, 1980 and 1983. She studied at Northwich Grammar School For Girls, now known as The County High School, Leftwich.

Strong's first major championship was the 1978 Commonwealth Games, in Edmonton, Canada where she got the silver medal. She went on to improve on that in the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane Australia, by getting the gold medal.

Strong achieved a creditable fifth place at the 1983 World Championships with a wind-assisted time of 12.78 seconds, Great Britain's highest placing in the event until Tiffany Porter finished in fourth place in 2011.[2]

With the eastern European countries absent through boycott at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Strong went into the 100 metres hurdles event as favourite. However, in the final Benita Fitzgerald-Brown of the United States ran the race of her life to take gold in 12.84 seconds, 0.04 seconds faster than the Briton.

In the years following Los Angeles, Strong was frequently troubled by problems with her achilles tendon and failed to qualify for the 1986 Commonwealth Games. She did earn selection for the European Championships later that year, but withdrew from the team. After competing in the 1987 indoor season she retired from athletics.


At the height of her career Strong was among the most popular athletes in the UK among a public who regarded her as "one of us", and even admitted to having an occasional cigarette after a race.[3]

Personal bests[edit]

  • 60 metres hurdles – 8.11sec Cosford, UK 11 March 1984
  • 100 metres hurdles – 12.87sec Zurich, SUI 24 August 1983 – British record 1983–88

Note: Strong twice ran 12.78sec, first in Brisbane (8 October 1982 ) with a following wind of +4.5, then in Helsinki (13 August 1983) with a following wind of +2.4. Any performance achieved with a following wind of more than +2.0 m/s is regarded as wind-assisted and does not count for record purposes.


  • 6 Times AAAs (of England) National 100 m Hurdles Champion 1979, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84 ( 2nd in 77, 78 )
  • 3 Times UK National 100 m Hurdles Champion 1979, 80, 83 ( 2nd in 77, 78 )
Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  England
1978 Commonwealth Games Edmonton, Canada 2nd 100m hurdles 13.08w
1982 Commonwealth Games Brisbane, Australia 1st 100m hurdles 12.78w
Representing  Great Britain
1980 Olympic Games Moscow, Russia semi-final 100 m hurdles 13.12
1981 European Cup Zagreb, Yugoslavia 4th 100m hurdles 13.21
1982 European Championships Athens, Greece semi-final 100m hurdles 13.23
1983 World Championships Helsinki, Finland 5th 100m hurdles 12.78w
European Cup London, UK 5th 100m hurdles 13.37
1984 Olympic Games Los Angeles, USA 2nd 100m hurdles 12.88


  1. ^ "New girl on the block", Northwich Chronicle, 31 July 2002
  2. ^ "British Medallists IAAF World Championships in Athletics". Retrieved 15 May 2007.
  3. ^ "Take a look at me now". BBC. 24 April 2001. Retrieved 15 May 2007.