Ann Brightwell MBE
Olympic champion. World record-breaking athlete.
Olympic gold and silver medal winner Tokyo 1964
Course: Cert Ed 1963 | HonDEd 2017
Ann Brightwell (née Packer) is one of an elite band of British athletes who have won an Olympic gold medal. Aged just 22, Ann won gold in the 800 metres at the 1964 Games in Tokyo. It would be 40 years before another British woman, Kelly Holmes, would win the 800 metres again.
In Tokyo, Ann was favourite to win the 400 metres, her main event, but was beaten into the silver medal position. Putting this disappointment behind her, she turned to the 800 metres, an event in which she had only raced a handful of times before.
Ann not only won gold in the final, but broke the world record with a time of 2 minutes 1.1 seconds. She retired soon afterwards. She recalls: “It was a shock to me – a shock to everyone. Five seconds was a massive chunk to knock off my personal best.”
At the time of the Olympics, still in the amateur era, Ann had to juggle her training with a full-time job as a physical education teacher. Just one year earlier she had been completing her Certificate in Education at the university’s predecessor, Dartford College of Physical Education.
“I had to do my athletics training at the end of the day, after lectures,” she remembers. “It made me stronger.”