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Denise Lewis, OBE (born 27 August 1972, in West Bromwich[1]) is a retired British track and field athlete, who specialised in the heptathlon. She won the gold medal in the heptathlon at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Denise Lewis
Denise Lewis (cropped).jpg
Personal information
Born (1972-08-27) 27 August 1972 (age 46)
West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight10 st 1 lb; 141 lb (64 kg)
Country Great Britain
ClubBirchfield Harriers
Coached byCharles van Commenee

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 and Rio 2016.


Athletics careerEdit

2000 OlympicsEdit

The first day of the 2000 Summer Olympics heptathlon was 23 September. In the first event, Lewis recorded 13.23 seconds[2] 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,[2] 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,[2] 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.[2] 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: 3903
  2. Natalya Roshchupkina, RUS: 3872
  3. Denise Lewis, GBR: 3852
  4. Urszula Włodarczyk, POL: 3805
  5. Yelena Prokhorova, RUS: 3771
  6. Sabine Braun, GER: 3770
  7. Eunice Barber, FRA: 3707
  8. Karin Specht-Ertl, GER: 3697

The first event on the second day was the long jump. Lewis's best jump was 6.48 m,[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] After the individual points had been calculated, it was announced, that Lewis had won with a total of 6584 points.[2] Prokhorova was second with 6531 (53 points behind Lewis) and Sazanovich was third with 6527 (4 points behind Prokhorova).[2]

2004 OlympicsEdit

At the 2004 Olympics, Lewis was suffering from a number of injuries and withdrew from the competition after the long jump.[2] Teammate and training partner Kelly Sotherton took bronze.

Personal bestsEdit

  • 100 m hurdles – 13.13 seconds
  • 200 m – 24.10 seconds
  • 800 m – 2 min 12.20 seconds
  • High jump – 1.87 m
  • Long jump – 6.69 m
  • Shot put – 16.12 m
  • Javelin – 51.48 m
  • Heptathlon – 6831 points Talence, France 2000
    (100H 13.13, HJ 1.84, SP 15.07, 200m 24.01w / LJ 6.69, JT 49.42, 800m 2:12.20)[3]

Awards and recognitionEdit

OBE ribbon

In the 2001 New Year Honours, Lewis was promoted to Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE),[4] having already been appointed MBE in the 1999 New Year Honours.[5]

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,[6][7] while in 2011, she was then inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame.[8][9] In 2013, Lewis was honoured at the annual Wolverhampton Famous Sons & Daughters Awards ceremony.[10][11] In 2014, she was presented with an honorary degree from the University of Wolverhampton.[12][13]

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.[14] She was selected as "Female Athlete of the Year" by the British Athletics Writers' Association (BAWA) four times, in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2000.[15][16] Lewis won the Sunday Times "Sportswoman of the Year" a record three times, in 1994, 1998 and 2000.[17][18]

At the inaugural British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSA) in 2015, Lewis became the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.[19][20]

Her British and Commonwealth record of 6831 points was set on 30 July 2000 in Talence, France.[2] 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.[21]

Television careerEdit

Punditry and presentingEdit

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.[22]

Strictly Come DancingEdit

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 appearancesEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Born in West Bromwich, 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 (Church of England). A £1 million sports hall was later built there and named in her honour.

Lewis was married to Belgian 200 metre-sprinter Patrick Stevens up until 2005. They have one daughter together. In 2006, Lewis married Steve Finan O'Connor, former manager of the UK pop group All Saints and son of comedian Tom O'Connor. The couple have four children.


  1. ^ "Midlands' Olympic legends: Denise Lewis". 6 July 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "UKA Official Website, Denise Lewis". UK Athletics Ltd. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  4. ^ "No. 56070". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2000. p. 12.
  5. ^ "No. 55354". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1998. p. 18.
  6. ^ "Denise Lewis and Bert Williams get Hall of Fame honour". BBC News. 15 September 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  7. ^ "Bert Williams and Denise Lewis join the hall of fame". Express and Star. 27 September 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  8. ^ "2011 Inductee videos". England Athletics. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  9. ^ "ENGLAND ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME HONOURS DISTINGUISHED HARRIER DENISE LEWIS". Birchfield Harriers. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  10. ^ "Gongs galore for Wolverhampton's top talents". Express & Star. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ "Denise Lewis wins again as Olympic hero picks up honorary degree from the University of Wolverhampton". Daily Mail. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Olympian Denise Lewis awarded honorary degree". ITV. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Past winners of the SJA British Sports Awards". Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  15. ^ "BAWA Award winners". SJA. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Awards". BAWA. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Another accolade for Lewis". BBC. 28 November 2000. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  18. ^ "Charlotte up for Sportswoman of the Year". World Dressage News. 1 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  19. ^ "Golden Girl Denise Lewis Is A Winner Again". Voice Online. 23 February 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  20. ^ "BEDSA Awards celebrate diversity in sport". Connect Sport. 1 March 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  21. ^ Jaguar Academy of Sport. "Homepage". Archived from the original on 28 February 2012.
  22. ^

External linksEdit