British javelin thrower Fatima Whitbread had a difficult upbringing after her mother abandoned her as a young girl. She eventually retired from the sport. After that, she had to spend most of her childhood in various nursing homes.
She started javelin throwing at age 11, later Margaret Whitbread became her trainer. Margaret Whitbread, a former athlete, became both a national javelin champion and a coach.
Fatima became the first British athlete to ever set a world record in a throwing competition while competing to win the track and field championship in Stuttgart. In addition, she is a two-time Olympic medalist, having won the bronze medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics and the silver medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics.
She was only 18 when she won the gold medal at the 1979 European Junior Athletics Championships. Tessa Sanderson, a fellow British javelin thrower, has been one of her most prominent competitors throughout her career.
Who exactly were Fatima Whitbread’s real parents?
Fatima Whitbread was born in London to Cypriot descent but they are no longer involved in any aspect of her life. Margaret Whitbread and her husband became her adoptive parents when the child’s birth mother left them.
She was forced to spend most of her youth in several separate homes for children after her abusive mother abandoned her.
During one of the interviews, she revealed the fact that she lived alone in an apartment in London. After some time, a neighbor called the police after hearing a baby sobbing in the apartment as no one entered or exited the building.
She was lucky to be rescued by the police, who then took her to the hospital, where she stayed for six months. She was then confined to a facility for abused and neglected children for the next 14 years.
What ethnic group did Fatima Whitbread’s parents belong to?
Fatima Whitbread’s biological father was of Greek Cypriot descent while her biological mother was of Turkish Cypriot descent.
Fatima is the first person from the UK to set a new world record in javelin throwing in any category. Fatima never returned to her homeland, and yet she won the 1987 World Championships.
Fatima had no contact with either her biological mother or her father, who neglected and abused her as a child. After some time, Margaret Whitbread’s family decided to adopt her and start a new life for her.
This is the man married to Fatima Whitbread?
Between 1997 and 2006 Fatima Whitbread was married to her husband Andrew Norman. They divorced in 2006 and he died of a heart attack in 2007, exactly a year after their divorce was finalized.
They married in 1997 and remained together until their divorce in 2006. The British Athletic Federation formerly appointed him Promotion Director.
In the early 1990s, Norman became embroiled in a scandal that eventually led to his employment being terminated. It is alleged that he put pressure on Mr Temple to stop him from pursuing a negative story about Mr Norman’s girlfriend.
Despite this, Norman denied all allegations at the time, stating that Cliff was a long-time friend of his.
An insight into Fatima Whitbread’s career
In 1977, Fatima Whitbread began her professional athletics career by winning the interim title at the English Schools’ Athletics Championships. While she won the women’s Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) title, she also set an intermediate national mark with a throw of 48.28 meters (158 ft, 5 in).
In the qualifying round of the 1986 European Championships, Fatima threw the javelin 77.44 meters, far enough to break the previous world mark. That’s two meters more than the previous record, which was set just a year earlier by Petra Felke from the GDR.
Later in her career, she suffered from a long-standing shoulder problem, allegedly caused by her 1986 world record throw. Her last competition was the British Athletics Championships in 1990. She had not previously competed in any other events.
Whitbread set an intermediate national record of 158 ft 5 in (48.28 m) and won the Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) women’s championship the following month. She finished sixth in the javelin throw at the 1978 Commonwealth Games after throwing 49.16 m (161 ft 3 + 14 in), the event record. Whitbread won the 1977 Intermediate Championships in English Schools Athletics. At the 1979 European Athletics Junior Championships, she threw 190 ft 11 + 1/4 in (58.20 m) for gold in the javelin event. She was selected to compete in the 1980 Summer Olympics, but her distance of just 163 ft 2 + 1/4 in (49.74 m) prevented her from making the finals. Whitbread won the gold medal in shot put at the 1982 Commonwealth Games with a throw of 58.86 m (193 ft 1 + 1/4 in), finishing 5.6 m (18 ft 4 + 1/4 in) behind the Australian winner Sue Howland.
Whitbread trailed British competitor Tessa Sanderson for 18 consecutive events before edging her out with a throw of 62.14 m (203 ft 1012 in) to win the 1983 British Athletics Championships. Whitbread narrowly qualified for the finals and went on to win the silver medal at the inaugural World Championships in 1983. She led throughout the competition until Tiina Lillak improved her grade on her final throw. Whitbread won the bronze medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics with a distance of 67.14 meters (220 ft 3+1/4 inches), while Sanderson won gold with a distance of 69.56 meters (228 ft 2+1/4 inches). Lillak took home silver with a stress fracture in his right foot. At the 1986 Commonwealth Games in July, Whitbread twice broke the game record on her first three throws and she led by a distance of 68.54 m (224 ft 10 + 1/4 in) before Sanderson 69.80 m (229 ft 0 inches) reached ) and won. After the result, Whitbread said, “I’m so disappointed…I didn’t do well on the night.” After the result, Whitbread sobbed on the field for around 30 minutes. Sanderson, who finished behind Whitbread pre-games in all seven Olympics since 1984, said, “I don’t mind losing to Fatima in the smaller competitions, but not in the big ones.” After the awards ceremony, she was still saying visibly upset: “12 years of hard work. Still no [gold] Medal… I’ve been waiting for this for two long years [the 1984 Summer Olympics]. And now I am humbled.”
Victories at European and World Championships and a world record
Whitbread surpassed the previous record by East Germany’s Petra Felke the following month when she threw the javelin to 77.44 meters in the qualifying round of the 1986 European Championships. She was the first British athlete to set a world record in a throwing competition. After Felke took the lead in the first three rounds, Whitbread won her first major championship gold with throws of 72.68 yards in the fourth round and 73.68 yards in the fifth (the second longest throw by a woman in history). “All those years of training had finally come to fruition,” Whitbread later said, “I went on my lap of honor… Spontaneously, I shook my hips in ecstasy, a victory wobble.”: 168
Finishing second behind Felke, Whitbread secured a spot in the 1987 World Championships Final. She defeated Felke to take the title with a throw that ranked third in history at 76.64 yards. Sanderson was fourth. After beating Felke in the World and European competitions, she was known in Britain for her happy wobble. In 1987 she was voted the winner of BBC Sports Personality of the Year. She added the “Whitbread Wiggle” to that rehearsed smile, according to David Powell in The Times. She succeeds in adding personality to her event much like Willie Banks did with the triple jump.
Whitbread suffered a series of illnesses in the months leading up to the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, including a shoulder injury, boils, glandular fever and gum problems. Whitbread, who finished second behind Felke, with a throw that was better than her season average but nearly four yards shorter than her opponent. When I needed to be defeated, Whitbread would say, “I’m glad Petra did it.”
A chronic shoulder condition that Whitbread believed stemmed from her world record throw in 1986 impacted her later career. Her last competition included the British Athletics Championships in 1990, where she again had a shoulder problem. In 1992 she officially ended her competitive career.
Rivalry with Tessa Sanderson
Whitbread’s and Sanderson’s “hate-hate relationship was one of the most enduring in British sport,” according to Alan Hubbard, who observed it in a 1990 article in The Observer. It lasted almost a decade. The Sanderson-Whitbread feud is undoubtedly one of the sport’s greatest, as noted by Matthew Engel in The Guardian that same year and by Tom Lamont 29 years later in the same publication: ‘Whitbread and Sanderson were always uneasy rivals and the animosity that developed during their evolved through overlapping careers, became as famous as her accomplishments, and appears to be surviving into her retirement.” Hubbard cited Sanderson’s belief that Whitbread received preferential treatment. Whitbread and her mother knew Andy Norman, the board’s promotions officer responsible for setting costs for British athletes. While her daughter competed frequently in international competitions in 1985, as opposed to only one during Sanderson’s season through June of that year, Margaret Whitbread was also the national women’s javelin coach. Sanderson vowed in 1987 to boycott athletic competitions because Whitbread paid her $10,000 but British Athletics only paid her £1,000 each. Additionally, Sanderson felt that the Whitbreads should have sponsored British athletes rather than Australian athlete Howland, who competed in the 1990 Commonwealth Games after a two-year doping ban.
Sanderson won an Olympic gold medal and three Commonwealth gold medals during his career, while Whitbread won a world title and a European title. Overall, Sanderson surpassed Whitbread in 27 of the 45 competitions in which they competed, however Whitbread surpassed Sanderson from 1984–87.