The only woman ever to concurrently hold all four major championship gold medals, Sally Gunnell OBE knows the secrets to success. After retiring from athletics, Sally has proved she is a champion in many other fields, having developed a new career as a television presenter and motivational speaker. Combining her sporting experience with business knowledge, she imparts her wisdom on how to achieve peak performance.
The only women ever to hold four major track titles concurrently - Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth - Sally Gunnell OBE is an inspirational figure in British athletics.
An ideal choice of motivational keynote speaker for corporate audiences, Sally’s presentations relate to a wide cross-section of businesses in all sectors, providing realistic goal-setting and easy-to-follow concepts that can be applied to the broadest spectrum possible.
By her own admission, Sally’s rise to the pinnacle of her sport was won through hard graft and a firm grip over her own mind. On her way to success, she contended with injuries, athletes that she saw as more naturally gifted, and a relatively modest support infrastructure compared to her peers.
Starting out as a pentathlete and long-jumper with the Essex Ladies’ club, Sally’s explosive power made her a decent junior sprinter, and she soon began to concentrate on the 100m hurdles.
Gold at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games of 1986 seemed to confirm Sally’s prowess at sprint hurdling, but by 1987 she was being encouraged to look at longer distances. In 1989, Sally took Gold at the European Cup 400m flat race in Gateshead - her speed endurance and mental toughness were becoming apparent - and, by 1990, she was hurdling again with great success, winning the 1990 Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles title in Auckland.
Tokyo’s 1991 World Championships could so easily have brought Sally the Gold medal, but an uncharacteristic split second of mental diversion - she glanced across at one of her rivals at the penultimate hurdle - left her with the Silver and a burning sense of disappointment.
After months of hard work, Sally returned to the track’s biggest stage in 1992 - the Barcelona Olympics - and she progressed to the 400m hurdles final without incident. An indifferent start to the biggest race of her life was soon forgotten as she engaged the Gunnell afterburner to blow away her rivals in the last 150 metres.
Olympic Gold and a place in history were hers, but she was not finished yet.
Sally worked even harder during the off-season of 1992/3, building in a raft of changes to her nutrition, physical and technical training - nothing was left to chance. Her coach knew exactly how to get her “peaked” in time for the World Championships in Stuttgart, and all was going perfectly to plan with a week left.
On arrival in Germany, Sally developed a heavy cold. Although she hid this from her rivals and managed to battle through qualifying in order to make the final, Sally was so ill the night before the race that she called a press conference to announce her withdrawal. At the last minute, she had a change of heart and pulled the conference. This proved to be an excellent decision; although feeling well below par, Sally stormed to the Gold, setting a new World Record in the process.
Although her later career was blighted by injury, eventually coming to an end in 1997, Sally’s achievements in ’92 and ’93 assured her place in the history books. No other woman has held Commonwealth, European, World and Olympic track titles concurrently and, although her world record has been broken by American athlete Kim Batten, her Stuttgart time remains a British record.
Following her retirement from international athletics, Sally developed a new career as a television presenter and motivational speaker.
She became part of the BBC Sport team and was a regular fixture on Athletics programmes throughout the Noughties, until 2006, interviewing athletes on the finish line and bringing the trackside atmosphere into millions of living rooms across the UK.
Sally has appeared in numerous TV shows including A Question of Sport and Total Wipeout, is a regular on the Breakfast News sofas, and conducts hundreds of radio interviews each year.
Today, her mission is to promote health and wellbeing for everybody in the UK. She is a passionate supporter of initiatives that encourage families to be more active. Her corporate work, helping companies to bring health and wellbeing into the workplace, confirm her formidable reputation as an influencer at the highest levels of business.
Sally’s passion for health and wellbeing was a key component of her athletics success, and she took her knowledge and experience into the printed word in the form of four influential books on the subject.
Friendly and approachable, her extensive experience in front of corporate audiences makes her an ideal choice of motivational keynote speaker for a range of events.