Fatima Whitbread

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Fatima Whitbread
Personal information
Birth name Fatima Vedad
Nationality  Great Britain
Born (1961-03-03) 3 March 1961 (age 59)
London, United Kingdom
Height 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
Weight 68 kg (150 lb)
Country  Great Britain
Sport Athletics
Event(s) Javelin throw
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 77.44 (1986)

Fatima Whitbread MBE (born Fatima Vedad; 3 March 1961) is a British former javelin thrower. She is a former world champion and world record holder. She won the 1986 European Championships in Stuttgart and the 1987 World Championships in Rome. Whitbread is also a two-time Olympic medallist, winning bronze at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Early life

Whitbread was born in Stoke Newington, London,[1] to a Turkish Cypriot mother and Greek Cypriot father.[2] She grew up in a series of children's homes, occasionally being left in the care of her abusive biological mother. In a 2003 interview with The Observer, Whitbread said, "It was a nightmare of a childhood and it was only because I loved sport so much that I got through it and met my true mother."[2]

At the age of 14, she was adopted by the Whitbread family and spent her teenage years in Chadwell St Mary, Essex. Margaret Whitbread, her javelin coach, had offered to take her in when she realised that Fatima was spending a lot of time with her family.[2] Whitbread attended Dilkes County Primary School and the Culverhouse Secondary School (now the Ockendon Academy), both in South Ockendon, Essex, then Torells School, Grays following her adoption.[3]


Whitbread broke the javelin world record with a throw of 77.44m in the qualifying round of the 1986 European Championships in Athletics (where she also won the final) and became World Champion in 1987. She became well known in the UK for her celebratory wiggle after defeating arch-rival Petra Felke in these events. Her performances in 1987 led to her being voted winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.[4]

Whitbread had won the silver medal at the inaugural World Championships in 1983. She was also known for her rivalry with fellow British javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson, who won the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles with Whitbread finishing in bronze medal position. In the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Whitbread won the silver medal behind Petra Felke, who had broken the world record in the interim.[citation needed]

Whitbread is a one-time governor of King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, Essex. According to a November 2008 Daily Express article, she owns her own company and is involved with the stadium being used after the 2012 Summer Olympics.[specify][5]

Personal life

In 1997, Whitbread married Andrew Norman in Copthorne, West Sussex.[6] They had a son, Ryan, who was born in the late 1990s. The couple divorced in 2006 after she discovered he was having an affair.[7] Andrew Norman, who represented many athletes professionally, died of a heart attack in 2007.[8]

Whitbread's autobiography, Survivor, was published in 2012.[9]

In media

On 26 December 2009, Whitbread took part in a celebrity version of the TV show Total Wipeout.[citation needed] She also appeared on an episode of Celebrity Come Dine with Me on 2 September 2011.[10] On 19 December 2011, Whitbread appeared on a Christmas edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? partnered with Russell Watson. It was rumoured that she had been hired as This Morning's new fitness expert[11] and made her first appearance on 5 January 2012.

On 21 July 2012, Whitbread appeared with Sharron Davies in the BBC One quiz show Pointless Celebrities which aired on 26 May 2012. On 21 July 2012, she was a contestant on an Olympians edition of ITV's The Cube. In 2015, she took part in the ITV sports show Eternal Glory, but was the first celebrity to be eliminated

I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

Starting on 13 November 2011, Whitbread took part in the ITV show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!.[12] Whitbread and fellow camp mate Antony Cotton left after 21 days on 2 December 2011, where she placed third.


  1. "Fatima Whitbread". United Kingdom Athletics. Retrieved 18 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Triumph and despair: Fatima Whitbread", The Observer
  3. Daily Mail Weekend Interview. 7 April 2012, p6
  4. BBC Sports Personality of the Year 1987
  5. Daily Express, 8 November 2008, Saturday Magazine supplement.
  6. "Fatima fails in bid to be queen of jungle". East Grinstead Courier and Observer. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2012. Locals remembered the day she married Andrew Norman in Copthorne's St John's Church. ... Fatima married her promoter and agent Andrew Norman in 1997, with the reception held at Copthorne Hotel Effingham Park.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. She's lost two stone
  8. This Is Announcement (obituary)
  9. Fatima Whitbread (5 July 2012). Survivor: The Shocking and Inspiring Story of a True Champion. Ebury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4481-3225-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Come Dine With Me Athletics Special". Retrieved 3 September 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Fatima Whitbread lands This Morning fitness expert gig – I'm A Celebrity News – Reality TV". Digital Spy. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Revoir, Paul (9 November 2011). "Bushtucker trails should be a doodle for Freddie 'ate my Hamster' Starr as he heads Down Under with Lorraine Chase for I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!". Daily Mail. Retrieved 9 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
East Germany Petra Felke
Women's Javelin Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
East Germany Petra Felke