Katharine Merry

Katharine Merry (born 21 September 1974) is an English former sprinter. She won the bronze medal in the 400 metres at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and was the fastest woman in the world over 400 m in 2001, with her career best of 49.59 secs. She also represented Great Britain at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and won the 200 metres at the 1993 European Junior Championships.

Katharine Merry
2013 Great North CityGames Pole Vault - Luke Cutts and Kath Merry cropped.jpg
Katherine Merry for BBC Sport interviewing British pole vaulter Luke Cutts at the 2013 Gateshead Great City Games vault
Personal information
Born (1974-09-21) 21 September 1974 (age 45)
Dunchurch, Warwickshire
Coached byLinford Christie


Born in Dunchurch, Warwickshire, Merry had a career that spanned 20 years. A member of the Birchfield Harriers athletics club, at the age of 12 she topped the UK Under 13 rankings in 7 different events. She was the fastest girl in the world aged 14 years old, and started her international GB career aged just 13, and stayed on the junior team for a record 6 years, which included 5 Junior Championships, winning a total of 6 medals. She transferred into a successful senior athlete with her Olympic medal in Sydney, in the 'Race of the Games' winning bronze behind Australian favourite Cathy Freeman in Stadium Australia in front of 112,000 people. The following year she became World number 1. She was coached by fellow Olympic medallist Linford Christie in his Cardiff based training squad, which included fellow Olympic medallist Darren Campbell. She is also with Christie's sports agency Nuff Respect. Merry still holds various UK age record bests, including U/13 high jump and several sprints, as well as the Senior UK Indoor 200 m record of 22.83 secs. Also World age records, including aged 14, 7.35 secs for 60 m indoors.

She is third on the UK All Time 400 m list with 49.59 secs.

After suffering from a bone spur growth on her right heel bone, and after 2 operations, in July 2005 Merry announced her official retirement from athletics.[1] She had been suffering from the injury since 2001 and was struggling to get it healed fully. It had prevented her from getting back into proper training, meaning she could not get back to her year 2000 form. Despite this, she still ended the 2001 season as the world's fastest female 400 m runner.


Merry now works freelance in the media on radio and TV. This has included working in Beijing and London at the Olympics for the BBC,[2] and was the sole field event commentator for the hugely successful Channel 4 coverage of the Paralympic Games in 2012, as well as working for Sky TV, Eurosport and Channel Five. A multi tasker Merry now commentates, presents and hosts sporting events around the world.

Merry appeared in All New Celebrity Total Wipeout on 25 September, where she struck up a rivalry with the man who, in her words, "ate all the pies", John Regis. She 'ran' the qualifier in 2:16, beating Regis by 50 seconds and then beating him again in the next two rounds but losing finally in the Wipeout Zone, finishing 3rd behind Regis and eventual winner DJ JK. She won overall, 3 events to 1.[3]

She is a regular on BBC's A Question of Sport and BBC's 5Live Fighting Talk. In December 2013, on the one episode she was on, Merry came third out of four contestants on BBC's Celebrity Mastermind, with a specialist subject of Aston Villa 1980–1990.

Personal lifeEdit

Merry was based in Cardiff while training with Linford Christie, before moving to Bristol after retirement.[4] Merry married in September 2014 and lives in Birmingham. Her son was born in February 2011 and her daughter in March 2014.[citation needed]

She is a supporter of Aston Villa football club.

International competitionsEdit

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing the   Great Britain
1989 European Junior Championships Varaždin, Yugoslavia 7th 100 m 11.84
5th 200 m 24.05
1990 World Junior Championships Plovdiv, Bulgaria 8th 100m 11.71 (wind: +0.9 m/s)
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 44.16
1991 European Junior Championships Thessaloniki, Greece 3rd 200 m 23.84
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 44.57
1992 World Junior Championships Seoul, South Korea 6th 100m 11.63 (wind: +0.3 m/s)
5th 200m 23.59 (wind: +0.3 m/s)
4th 4 × 100 m relay 44.62
1993 European Junior Championships San Sebastián, Spain 2nd 100 m 11.58
1st 200 m 23.35
1st 4 × 100 m relay 44.31
1993 World Championships Stuttgart, Germany 22nd (qf) 200 m 23.46
1994 European Cup Birmingham, United Kingdom 2nd 100 m 11.34
2nd 200 m 23.38
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 43.46
1994 European Championships Helsinki, Finland 15th (sf) 200m 23.55 (wind: +0.3 m/s)
5th 4 × 100 m relay 43.63
1996 European Cup Madrid, Spain 3rd 200 m 22.88
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 19th (qf) 200 m 23.17
8th 4 × 100 m relay 43.93
1997 World Championships Athens, Greece 32nd (qf) 200 m 23.98
1998 European Championships Budapest, Hungary semifinal 200 m 23.38
3rd 4 × 400 m relay 3:25.66
1999 World Championships Seville, Spain 5th 400 m 50.52
2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 3rd 400 m 49.72
6th 4 × 400 m relay 2:25.67

Personal bestsEdit

Event Venue Time Date
60m (indoors) Glasgow 7.34 23/01/94
100m Birmingham 11.34 25/06/94
200m Barcelona 22.76 (−1.0w) 25/07/00
200m (indoors) Birmingham 22.83 UK Record 14/02/99
300m Gateshead 36.00 28/08/00
400m Athens 49.59 11/06/01
400m (indoors) Birmingham 50.53 18/02/01


  1. ^ Katharine Merry: 'I had surgery twice, then illness almost stopped my breathing. In the end, I couldn't go on' | Sport | The Observer
  2. ^ "Nuff Respect". Archived from the original on 16 June 2007.
  3. ^ "BBC One - Total Wipeout, Series 3, Celebrity Special 2". BBC.
  4. ^ Mount, Harry (25 October 2002). "Portrait of a driver: Katharine Merry" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Beverly Kinch
British Champion in 100 m
Succeeded by
Paula Dunn Thomas
Preceded by
Allison Curbishley
British Champion in 400 m
Succeeded by
Donna Fraser