Tessa Sanderson

Let's celebrate the first Black British woman to win an Olympic gold medal for Britain

By The Voice Newspaper

Tessa Sanderson (1996) by Shaun Botterill/GettyThe Voice Newspaper

Tessa, one of Britain’s greatest athlete

‘The first’ is a phrase that crops up time and time again when reflecting on the incredible career of Tessa Sanderson CBE, one of Great Britain’s greatest ever track and field athletes.

Tessa Sanderson (2019) by Aubrey Hart/GettyThe Voice Newspaper

Born in Jamaica, Sanderson was raised by her grandmother before following her parents, who were part of the Windrush Generation over to England when she was six years old.

Tessa Sanderson (1984) by Jack Kay/GettyThe Voice Newspaper

Sportswoman of the year

Tessa Sanderson and Sebastian Coe, Sportswoman and Sportsman, speaking with Princess Anne, 1984

Tessa Sanderson: The first Black British woman to win an Olympic gold medal. (1984) by Tony Duffy/GettyThe Voice Newspaper

At the Los Angeles Olympic in 1984, Tessa was the first and only British athlete to win an Olympic throwing event.

Tessa Sanderson (1979) by Photo by Monte Fresco/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Getty 1984The Voice Newspaper

“Winning Olympic gold, other than having my adopted twins, has been the greatest feat I’ve had – it’s been a dream come true,” explained Sanderson, who topped the podium ahead of Finland’s Tiina Lillak and great rival Fatima Whitbread in 1984.

Tessa Sanderson (1978) by Tony Duffy/Getty 1978The Voice Newspaper

Sanderson’s remarkable longevity at the top is also unmatched, becoming the first and only British woman to date to compete at six successive Olympic Games over two decades.

Tessa Sanderson (2008) by Ian Walton/GettyThe Voice Newspaper

Having joined Wolverhampton & Bilston AC, her rise through the ranks was rapid and she won the first of eight British javelin titles in 1975 before making her Olympic debut in Montreal a year later.

Tessa Sanderson (2012) by Simon Burchell/GettyThe Voice Newspaper

She is a trailblazer in every sense of the word and while society may have come a long way since her Olympic triumph almost four decades ago, the 65-year-old is still fighting for and promoting black voices – especially in the boardrooms. 

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