Denise Lewis

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Denise Lewis
Denise Lewis (cropped).jpg
Personal information
Born (1972-08-27) 27 August 1972 (age 49)
West Bromwich, England
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Country Great Britain
ClubBirchfield Harriers
Coached byCharles van Commenee, Darrell Bunn
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)6,831 pts (2000)

Denise Lewis OBE (born 27 August 1972) is a British sports presenter and former track and field athlete, who specialised in the heptathlon. She won the gold medal in the heptathlon at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was twice Commonwealth Games champion, was the 1998 European Champion and won World Championships silver medals in 1997 and 1999. She was the first European to win the Olympic heptathlon, though Europeans, including Briton Mary Peters, had won the Olympic pentathlon precursor event.

Her personal best score for the heptathlon is 6,831 points, set at the Décastar meeting in 2000. This is a former British record and ranks her third on the all-time British lists behind Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jessica Ennis-Hill.[1][2]

Lewis was honoured as Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2001 New Year Honours. Since retiring from athletics, she has undertaken various television and media work and is now a regular athletics pundit for BBC Television, including during London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

Olympic career

2000 Olympics

The first day of the 2000 Summer Olympics heptathlon was 23 September. In the first event, Lewis recorded 13.23 seconds[3] for the 100 metres hurdles to be in second place behind the world champion, Eunice Barber, who had finished in 12.97 seconds. Ghada Shouaa, the 1996 Olympic champion, pulled out after only 20 metres of her heat.

After a poor performance in the high jump of only 1.75 m,[3] some way off her personal best, Lewis was in eighth place, 152 points behind Barber who had increased her lead. In the third event, the shot put, Lewis recorded a distance of 15.55 m,[3] placing her second, 30 points behind Natallia Sazanovich and 45 points ahead of former world champion Sabine Braun. Barber's distance of 11.27 m put her in eighth place.

In the final event of the day, the 200 metres, Lewis recorded a time of 24.34 sec.[3] Sabine Braun's time placed her in sixth position. A strong run by Natalya Roshchupkina moved her from sixth position to second, pushing Lewis into third place.

At the end of the first day, the points scored were:

  1. Natallia Sazanovich, BLR: 3,903
  2. Natalya Roshchupkina, RUS: 3,872
  3. Denise Lewis, GBR: 3,852
  4. Urszula Włodarczyk, POL: 3,805
  5. Yelena Prokhorova, RUS: 3,771
  6. Sabine Braun, GER: 3,770
  7. Eunice Barber, FRA: 3,707
  8. Karin Specht-Ertl, GER: 3,697

The first event on the second day was the long jump. Lewis's best jump was 6.48 m,[3] marginally behind Yelena Prokhorova and Sazanovich. Eunice Barber, struggling with injury, withdrew after this event. In event six, the javelin, Lewis achieved a throw of 50.19 m.[3] With her closest rivals some way further back she moved into first place, with Sazanovich 63 points behind in second place and Prokhorova in third a further 83 points behind.

In the final event, the 800 metres, Lewis ran with the lower part of her left leg bandaged due to a calf and Achilles tendon injury, aiming to stay close enough to the race leaders to maintain her points advantage.[3] Prokhorova won the race convincingly and when Lewis crossed the line behind Sazanovich it was not, at first, clear if Lewis's time of 2:16.83 was enough to retain first place.[3] After the individual points had been calculated, it was announced, that Lewis had won with a total of 6,584 points.[3] Prokhorova was second with 6,531 (53 points behind Lewis) and Sazanovich was third with 6,527 (4 points behind Prokhorova).[3]

2004 Olympics

At the 2004 Olympics, Lewis was suffering from a number of injuries and withdrew from the competition after the long jump.[3] Teammate and training partner Kelly Sotherton took bronze.


Personal bests

Event Best Date Meeting Venue Notes
100 m hurdles 13.13 seconds 29 July 2000 Décastar Talence, France
200 m 24.10 seconds 1 June 1997 Hypo-Meeting Götzis, Austria
800 m 2 min 12.20 seconds 30 July 2000 Décastar Talence, France
High jump 1.87 m 21 August 1999 1999 World Championships in Athletics Seville, Spain
Long jump 6.69 m 30 July 2000 Décastar Talence, France
Shot put 16.12 m 21 August 1999 1999 World Championships in Athletics Seville, Spain
Javelin 51.48 m 10 July 2004 2004 AAA Championships Manchester, United Kingdom
Heptathlon 6,831 points 30 July 2000 Décastar Talence, France 100H 13.13
HJ 1.84
SP 15.07
200m 24.01w
LJ 6.69
JT 49.42
800m 2:12.20[4]

Seasonal bests

International competitions

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
1991 European Junior Championships Thessaloniki, Greece 5th Heptathlon 5,476 pts
1994 Commonwealth Games Victoria, Canada 8th Long jump 6.32 m
1st Heptathlon 6,325 pts
European Championships Helsinki, Finland 19th (q) Long jump 6.20 m
1995 European Cup Combined Events Helmond, Netherlands 1st Heptathlon 6,299 pts
World Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 7th Heptathlon 6,299 pts
1996 European Indoor Championships Stockholm, Sweden 8th Long jump 6.42 m
European Cup Madrid, Spain 4th Long jump 6.66 m
Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 23rd (q) Long jump 6.33 m
3rd Heptathlon 6,489 pts
1997 European Cup Munich, Germany 4th Long jump 6.56
World Championships Athens, Greece 2nd Heptathlon 6,654 pts
1998 Commonwealth Games Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1st Heptathlon 6,513
European Championships Budapest, Hungary 1st Heptathlon 6,559 pts
1999 World Championships Seville, Spain 2nd Heptathlon 6,724 pts
2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 1st Heptathlon 6,584 pts
2001 World Championships Edmonton, Canada Heptathlon DNS
2003 European Cup Combined Events 1st League Tallinn, Estonia 2nd Heptathlon 6,282 pts
World Championships Paris, France 5th Heptathlon 6,254 pts
2004 Olympic Games Athens, Greece Heptathlon DNF

National titles

† Lewis was the top placed Briton at the 2004 AAA Indoor shot put behind Sweden's Helena Engman
  • English Schools Championships[9]
    • Long jump: 1986 (junior), 1987 (intermediate)

Circuit wins

Awards and recognition

OBE ribbon

In the 2001 New Year Honours, Lewis was promoted to Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE),[10] having already been appointed MBE in the 1999 New Year Honours.[11]

In 2000, she was also presented with the Freedom of the City of Wolverhampton. In 2010, Lewis was inducted into the Wolverhampton Sporting Hall of Fame,[12][13] while in 2011, she was then inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame.[14][15] In 2013, Lewis was honoured at the annual Wolverhampton Famous Sons & Daughters Awards ceremony.[16][17] In 2014, she was presented with an honorary degree from the University of Wolverhampton.[18]

With Dame Kelly Holmes, Christine Ohuruogu and Paula Radcliffe, Lewis enjoys acclamation as one of the "golden girls" of British athletics and, in 1998 and 2000 has been runner up in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. In 2003, Lewis was put forward as a candidate in the BBC Midlands great midlander of all-time award but lost out to eventual winner Reginald Mitchell the inventor of the Supermarine Spitfire.

Lewis was voted "Sportswoman of the Year" by the Sports Journalists' Association (SJA) in 1997, 1998 and 2000, a joint-record three times, while also being named as runner up in 1996.[19] She was selected as "Female Athlete of the Year" by the British Athletics Writers' Association (BAWA) four times, in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2000.[20][21] Lewis won the Sunday Times "Sportswoman of the Year" a record three times, in 1994, 1998 and 2000.[22][23]

At the inaugural British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSA) in 2015, Lewis became the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.[24][25]

Her British and Commonwealth record of 6831 points was set on 30 July 2000 in Talence, France.[3] As of 2013, she ranks 15th in the Heptathlon all-time list.

In 2002, Lewis' Olympic victory was ranked 90th in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.

In 2010, Lewis was made a Patron of the Jaguar Academy of Sport.[26]

Outside of her sports achievements, Lewis was included in the 2019 edition of the Powerlist, ranking the 100 most influential Black Britons. [27]

Television career

Punditry and presenting

Since 2009, Lewis has acted as a pundit for BBC Sport's athletics coverage and she has covered major live events including the 2009 World Athletics Championships, 2010 Commonwealth Games, 2012 Summer Olympics, 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2016 Summer Olympics.

On 2 February 2015, Lewis guest hosted an episode of The One Show with Matt Baker.

Lewis has also been a presenter on various non-sports television programmes. In July 2015, Lewis co-hosted Right on the Money, a daytime series, alongside Dominic Littlewood on BBC One. The programme returned for a second series in July 2016. From 22 July 2011, Lewis hosted children's reality television show Camp Orange. She is a presenter of the BBC's Secret Britain (series 3 onwards) which introduces lesser-known aspects of the British countryside.[28]

Strictly Come Dancing

In 2004, Lewis took part in the BBC dancing competition, Strictly Come Dancing. She was partnered with professional dancer Ian Waite and in the first few weeks scored the highest number of points with the judges. She eventually reached the final and was runner-up to actress Jill Halfpenny. After this, Lewis and the two other partners from the final danced at the Royal Variety Performance.

Ten days after competing in the Strictly Come Dancing final, Lewis and Waite competed again in the Strictly Come Dancing Champion of Champions Special, where finalists from the first two series competed against each other. Lewis received the most points from the judges, but again was runner-up to Halfpenny. She then appeared on the 2016 Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special, partnered with Anton du Beke.

TV guest appearances

Personal life

Born on 27 August 1972 in West Bromwich[29] to Jamaican-born parents, Lewis grew up in Pendeford, Wolverhampton and was educated at the Regis School in Tettenhall, later to become the King's School.[30] A £1 million sports hall was later built there and named in her honour.[31]

Lewis was in a relationship with Belgian sprinter Patrick Stevens from the late 1990s until 2005. From that relationship, Lewis had a daughter. In 2006, Lewis married Steve Finan O'Connor, former manager of the UK pop group All Saints, current manager of Liam Payne and son of comedian Tom O'Connor.[32] They have three sons.

See also


  1. ^ HepW Women Overall All Time to 4857. Power of 10. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  2. ^ Senior Outdoor All time. European Athletics. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Denise Lewis". UK Archived from the original on 9 July 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  4. ^ "UKA Official Website, Denise Lewis". UK Athletics Ltd. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  5. ^ AAA Championships (Women). GBR Athletics. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  6. ^ AAA Indoor Championships (Women). GBR Athletics. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  7. ^ AAA Junior Championships. GBR Athletics. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  8. ^ British Schools International Match. GBR Athletics. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  9. ^ English Schools Championships (Girls). GBR Athletics. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  10. ^ "No. 56070". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2000. p. 12.
  11. ^ "No. 55354". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1998. p. 18.
  12. ^ "Denise Lewis and Bert Williams get Hall of Fame honour". BBC News. 15 September 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Bert Williams and Denise Lewis join the hall of fame". Express and Star. 27 September 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  14. ^ "2011 Inductee videos". England Athletics. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  15. ^ "ENGLAND ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME HONOURS DISTINGUISHED HARRIER DENISE LEWIS". Birchfield Harriers. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Gongs galore for Wolverhampton's top talents". Express & Star. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Liam Payne: Wolverhampton honour is most important award I've received". Native Monster. 11 October 2013. Archived from the original on 18 November 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  18. ^ "Olympian Denise Lewis awarded honorary degree". ITV. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  19. ^ "Past winners of the SJA British Sports Awards". Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  20. ^ "BAWA Award winners". SJA. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  21. ^ "Awards". BAWA. October 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  22. ^ "Another accolade for Lewis". BBC. 28 November 2000. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  23. ^ "Charlotte up for Sportswoman of the Year". World Dressage News. 1 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  24. ^ "Golden Girl Denise Lewis Is A Winner Again". Voice Online. 23 February 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  25. ^ "BEDSA Awards celebrate diversity in sport". Connect Sport. 1 March 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  26. ^ Jaguar Academy of Sport. "Homepage". Archived from the original on 28 February 2012.
  27. ^ Hicks, Amber (23 October 2018). "List of 100 most influential black people includes Meghan Markle for first time". mirror. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  28. ^ "BBC One - Secret Britain, Series 3".
  29. ^ "Midlands' Olympic legends: Denise Lewis". 6 July 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  30. ^ "Letter from the Principal". Kings Wolverhampton. August 2022. Retrieved 6 August 2022.
  31. ^ "Golden girl Denise wins honorary degree". 9 September 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2022.
  32. ^ Traynor, Luke (19 July 2021). "Olympian Denise Lewis pays tribute to father-in-law Tom O'Connor". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 22 July 2021.

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by Women's Heptathlon Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
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