Athletics - We Are England
Day four


Take any Games and England have excelled in athletics thanks to a cast of star names.

Sir Roger Bannister, Linford Christie, Steve Cram, Jonathan Edwards, Sally Gunnell, Dame Kelly Holmes, Denise Lewis, Paula Radcliffe, Tessa Sanderson and Daley Thompson are just ten of the names that roll of the tongue when it comes to England’s athletics stars at the Commonwealth Games.

England are the all-time leaders in athletics at the Commonwealth Games in what is always a strong sport for the nation, and have dominated from the very start of competition at the 1930 British Empire Games in Hamilton.

Three Games stand out for England in athletics. Firstly the Vancouver 1954 Commonwealth Games where against the odds England topped the medals table, and a certain Roger Bannister produced arguably the greatest moment in the Games’ history.

Against John Landy, the Australian who had taken the world record for the one mile event, Bannister triumphed to win gold for England. With not long left of the race and Landy leading, Bannister overtook as his rival looked over his shoulder to see the competition behind him. Bannister never relinquished that lead and history was made.

Moving on 32 years and the Edinburgh 1986 Commonwealth Games brought both a stack of gold medals and some record-shattering performances. Steve Cram set the Games’ 800m record with a time of 1:43:22. BBC commentator David Coleman remarked he had ‘destroyed’ the field.

Daley Thompson’s decathlon points record was also a highlight. The man who had been described as ‘the greatest all-round athlete in the world’ at the height of his powers was in formidable form that year. Sally Gunnell won the 100m hurdles title, six years before winning her Olympic 400m hurdles crown, and already an Olympic champion Tessa Sanderson won her second javelin gold medal.

16 years later in Manchester there were even more incredible scenes. Jonathan Edwards’ triple jump record meant he completed his mission of holding all four major titles at once – Olympic, Commonwealth, World and European. Ashia Hansen too set the Games’ triple jump record to retain her title from the 1998 Games, having four years earlier won with her only legal jump in the final.

Did you know: Geoff Capes, the legendary two-time winner of the world's strongest man title, won two gold medals in the shot put for England in 1974 and 1978.

The governing body for England’s athletics team is England Athletics.