Duncan Goodhew

Duncan Alexander Goodhew, MBE (born 27 May 1957) is an English former competitive swimmer. After swimming competitively in America as a collegian at North Carolina State University, he was an Olympic swimmer for Great Britain and won Olympic gold and bronze medals at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. He also swam at the 1976 Summer Olympics.[1]

Duncan Goodhew
Personal information
Full nameDuncan Alexander Goodhew
National teamUnited Kingdom
Born (1957-05-27) 27 May 1957 (age 63)
Marylebone, London, England
Height6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight12 st 8 lb; 80 kg (176 lb)
College teamNorth Carolina State University
Medal record
Men's swimming
Representing Great Britain
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1980 Moscow 100 m breaststroke
Bronze medal – third place 1980 Moscow 4×100 m medley
World Championships - Long Course
Bronze medal – third place 1978 Berlin 4×100 m medley
European Championships - Long Course
Bronze medal – third place 1977 Jönköping 4×100 m medley
Summer Universiade
Silver medal – second place 1977 Sofia 100 m breaststroke
Representing  England
Commonwealth Games
Silver medal – second place 1978 Edmonton 100 m breaststroke
Silver medal – second place 1978 Edmonton 200 m breaststroke
Silver medal – second place 1978 Edmonton 4×100 m medley

Early lifeEdit

Goodhew attended Windlesham House School and Millfield School (Walton House).

Aged 10, he fell out of a tree, a traumatic event which triggered permanent hair loss due to alopecia universalis.[2]


Goodhew came to prominence as an international swimmer in 1976, finishing 7th in the 100m breaststroke at the Montreal Olympics that summer.[3] Four years later, in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, he won gold in the 100m breaststroke, in a time of 1:03.34, and a bronze in the 4x100m medley relay.[4] He represented England and won three silver medals in the breaststroke events and medley relay, at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.[5][6] At the ASA National British Championships he won the 100 metres breaststroke title in 1976, 1978 and 1980 and the 200 metres breaststroke title in 1976, 1978 and 1980.[7][8][9]

His bald head made him instantly recognisable. He was a member of the British bobsleigh team at the 1981 European Championships (cf. We Are the Champions, 1984 Grand Final). He now works part-time at Millfield School.

Goodhew made two guest appearances on The Sooty Show: firstly, in 1984, in the episode, "All Blocked Up" and secondly in 1991 in the episode "Hair Today".

He claims he was dyslexic; he is also an author and motivational speaker. He was appointed an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II for services to sport.

Goodhew's 100 m breaststroke gold medal achievement was ranked 99th in the British network Channel 4's 100 Greatest Sporting Moments in 2002. He has made a number of television appearances including Dave Gorman's Important Astrology Experiment.

After the London protests during the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay, Goodhew stated that the protests were "a bad example for children".[10]

On 29 September 2001, Goodhew participated in an international relay off the coast of California from Santa Catalina Island to Santa Monica.[11] Of the eight international relay teams participating, each team had one swimmer with MS. Goodhew swam on the same team as organizer and MS activist Taylor MH.[12] Proceeds from fund-raising were all donated to the Myelin Project.[13]

Cultural referencesEdit

He is mentioned in the BBC TV series The Office during a motivational speech by David Brent (Ricky Gervais), by The Toy Dolls in a song called Yul Brynner Was A Skinhead, in an episode of Little Britain in which a bald character is likened to the swimmer, in The Mighty Boosh when a peacock crashes into his back in a speech made by Naboo, and also in the Welsh psychedelic rock group, Sen Segur's song "Taith Duncan Goodhew" from their first EP, 'Pen Rhydd'.. He recorded a charity single with Melbourne’s very own Martin Enright which briefly featured in the top 100 record charts. He is also sardonically mentioned in the Only Fools and Horses episode "The Longest Night" by Tom Clark, the head security officer of the fictional Top Buyer Superstores. He is mentioned in the song 'Shaven Haven' by Kunt and The Gang and was also featured in The Macc Lads song "Al O'Peesha".

He appears in several episodes of Dave Gorman's Important Astrology Experiment, after Dave was instructed to befriend somebody with his initials, but whose life was very different. Together, they're seen playing hide and seek, frisbee, cycling and swimming.

In the BBC Radio 4 spoof news programme On The Hour, the sports desk presenter Alan Partridge often alludes to a fictional incident where Goodhew's hair 'tragically' grows back, thus robbing him of his celebrity status as a 'cheery bald swimming star'. Duncan was a guest on Radio 4 Extra's News Quiz Extra

Personal lifeEdit

In 2000, Labour Member of Parliament Robert Sheldon collapsed in the street and was revived by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by Goodhew who happened to be passing.[14]

Goodhew married Annie Patterson, an American graphic designer from North Carolina, in December 1984, and they have two children.[2][15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Duncan Goodhew Olympic Results". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 3 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b Culley, Jon (3 August 1993). "Where are they now?: Duncan Goodhew". The Independent. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Duncan Goodhew Bio, Stats and Results". Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Duncan Goodhew Bio, Stats and Results". Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  5. ^ "1978 Athletes". Team England.
  6. ^ "Athletes and results". Commonwealth Games Federation.
  7. ^ ""Evening of doubt turns into one of triumph." Times, 26 Aug. 1976, p. 8". Times Digital Archive.
  8. ^ "Hennessy, John. "Swimming." Times, 27 May 1978, p. 22". Times Digital Archive.
  9. ^ "Hennessy, John. "Swimming." Times, 26 May 1980, p. 11". Times Digital Archive.
  10. ^ Edwards, Richard; Thomas, David (7 April 2008). "Olympic torch relay nearly abandoned". The Daily Telegraph.
  11. ^ "Home". DomainofOpportunity.com. Archived from the original on 13 April 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  12. ^ "Swimming to Santa Monica". The Independent. 18 October 2001. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  13. ^ Eldred, Georgia. "Mike Does His Charity Swim, With Dolphins...And a Shark". South London Press. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  14. ^ "Famous Award Winners". Royal Humane Society. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  15. ^ Goodhew, Duncan (13 May 2011). "Duncan Goodhew: Five things I can't live without". Daily Express. Retrieved 13 April 2017.