Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Tanni Grey-Thompson - One of Great Britain's most successful Paralympians

Tanni Grey-Thompson -  (26 July 1969Cardiff, Wales, UK ) 

"Tanni Carys Davina Grey-Thompson OBE - to give her full name and title - is the disabled athlete that most people instantly recognise. Formerly Tanni Grey - the Thompson was added following her marriage in 1999 - she has competed in Paralympic Games since 1988, representing Britain at distances ranging from 100m to 800m. She has won fourteen paralympic medals including nine golds, and has broken over twenty world records. As a wheelchair athlete she was also the winner of five London marathons - in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2001. In recent years, she has established herself as a TV presenter - including BBC TWO's From the Edge disability magazine programme."

One of Great Britain's most successful Paralympians

Early Life
Tanni was born on 26th July 1969 in Cardiff, Wales and Christened 'Carys Davina'. She was first called the name Tanni by her two-year-old sister Sian who, on first seeing her, declared she was 'tiny.'
As a young child Tanni wore callipers, she started to use a wheelchair from the age of seven. From the outset, her parents were supportive and encouraged her independent streak. Tanni's first school experience was at Birch Grove Primary, she is remembered there as a very determined young lady.  Tanni tried many sports at primary school and particularly enjoyed swimming, archery and horse riding. 
Tanni first tried wheelchair racing at St. Cyres Comprehensive School, aged 13.  At 15 she won the 100 metres at the Junior National Wheelchair Games.  At 18, Tanni became a member of the Bridgend Athletics Club, the British Wheelchair Racing Squad and was selected for her first World Wheelchair Games.
First Paralympic Games

Sporting Career

In Seoul in 1988, Tanni represented Great Britain and won her first Paralympic medal, the 400m bronze. Spinal surgery forced Tanni to take a year away from the track and incredibly, at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics, she stormed to victory taking four gold medals in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 metres. The same year, she won her first of six London Wheelchair Marathons.
Tanni won the 800 metres gold in the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics along with three silver medals in the 100, 200 and 400 metres. At the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, 31 year old Tanni returned with a vengeance, striking gold a fabulous four times in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 metres. In Athens 2004, aged 35, she takes first place in the 100 and 400 metres bringing her Paralympic gold medal tally to an astonishing eleven.
Appointed to the House of Lords in 2010

Present Day

After meeting as members of the national wheelchair racing squad, Tanni Grey married Ian Thompson on 1st May 1999 at St John's Church, Cardiff.  Tanni says, "The National Championships are always the first week in May so we thought it would help us both remember our wedding anniversary!"
Daughter Carys was born in 2002.  Whenever possible Carys has accompanied her mum and dad to various sporting events at home and abroad.  Carys was at the 2008 Athens Paralympic Games to see her mum win her last two gold medals.
The Grey-Thompsons live in the North East of England.
Since her retirement, Tanni has continued to be involved in sport.  She is a director of UK Athletics and a member of the board of the London Marathon.
In 2008 Tanni was appointed as a member of Transport for London, where she chairs the Environment, Corporate and Planning Panel, and is a member of the Surface Transport and Safety, Health and Environment Assurance Panels.
In 2010 Tanni was appointed to the House of Lords, where she serves as a non party political crossbench peer.  Tanni took the title Baroness Grey-Thompson of Eaglescliffe in the County of Durham.  Tanni is a working peer and hopes to use her experience and knowledge to great effect in debates in the House.
 Graduated from Loughborough University

Academic Achievements

Pro Chancellor

In 2005 Tanni became Pro Chancellor of Staffordshire University.



  • Loughborough University, BA Politics

Honorary Degrees

  • Tanni has been awarded a combination of honorary degrees from 25 Academic Institutions.


  • Bath University, Hon Doctor of Laws


  • Newcastle University, Hon Doctor
  • Oxford Brookes University, Hon Doctor
  • Liverpool John Moores, Hon fellowship
  • Leicester University, Hon Doctor of Laws
  • Sheffield Hallam University, Hon Doctor of the University
  • University of Hull, Hon Doctor of Science


  • University of Exeter, Doctor of Laws
  • Herriot Watt University, Doctor of Laws
  • Open University, Doctor of the University


  • University of Wales, Newport, Hon Doctor


  • University of Wales, Doctor of Laws


  • Leeds Metropolitan University, Hon Doctor
  • Loughborough University, Honorary Doctor
  • Teesside University, Hon Masters
  • York and Ripon College, Hon Doctor
  • University of Swansea, Fellowship of the University
  • University of Glamorgan, Chancellors Medal
  • UWIC, Hon fellowship


  • University of Surrey, St Mary’s, Doctor of the University


  • Southampton University, Hon Doctor of the School of Business
  • Manchester Metropolitan University, Hon MA
  • Staffordshire University, Hon Doctor of Sport


  • Cardiff University, Hon Fellow


  • Loughborough University, Hon MA  

11 Gold medals

Sporting Achievements

Paralympic Games

  • 2004 Athens - 2 Gold medals in the 100m, and 400m
  • 2000 Sydney - 4 Gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 400m, and 800m
  • 1996 Atlanta - 1 Gold medal in the 800m (WR). 3 Silver medals in the 100m, 200m, and 400m
  • 1992 Barcelona - 4 Gold medals in the 100m (WR), 200m, 400m (WR) and 800m
  • 1988 Seoul - 1 Bronze medal 400m
* WR - World Record 

World Circuit

  • 6 time winner of the Women’s London Wheelchair Marathon
  • First woman in the world to break one minute for the 400m
  • First British Woman to break two hours for the marathon
  • British Wheelchair Racing Associations Road Race Grand Prix champion 1998 and 2005
  • Current European and British record holder for the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m
  • 30 world records broken
  • World Championship medals - 5 golds, 4 silvers and 1 bronze medal.

Personal Bests

  • 100m - 16.77, Kirby, 2005
  • 200m - 29.66 Atlanta, 2004
  • 400m - 56.28, Langenthal, Switzerland, 2003
  • 800m - 1.51.67, Atlanta, 2004
  • 1500m - 3.35.15, Jona, Switzerland, 1999
  • 5000m - 12.32.61, Jona, Switzerland, 1999
  • 10,000m - 25.39.6, Kirby, England, 1999
  • 10km road - 24.03, Mobile, USA, 1994
  • Half Marathon - 52.17, Great North Run, 1997  


 Tanni has received numerous accolades and awards in recognition of her Paralympic and sporting achievements.


  •  Appointed to the House of Lords as a crossbench peer


  • Elected to the Laureus World Sports Academy


  • Dame of the British Empire


  • BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year (also 1992, 2000)


  • Inducted in to the BWSF Hall of Fame


  • Voted ‘UK Sporting Hero’ by SPORT UK


  • OBE
  • Sunday Times Sports Woman of the Year, Helen Rollason Award
  • BBC Sports Personality of the Year – Helen Rollason Award (2000)
  • Sportswriters Award
  • Welsh Woman of the Year Award
  • Welsh Sportswoman of the Year
  • Best Welsh Sportswoman of 50 years
  • Pride of Britain – Special Award


  • Awarded MBE
  • Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year
  • Sports Writers Association female disabled athlete of the year

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