Sally Gunnell – In Conversation

Born in Chigwell, Essex in July of the year of England’s defining World Cup triumph, former track and field athlete Sally Gunnell with a love for the outdoors was eager to involve herself in a whole range of sporting activity. From a young age she recognised the importance of physical exercise and the luxury of living in an area with lots of natural space meant that Sally could be free to explore her own physical prowess. Joining The Essex Ladies Club while still at school gave the young athlete the perfect grounding in competitive sport and prepared her for national athletics trials. Competing in the national junior athletic championships, Sally began to concentrate on the 100m hurdles which would ultimately gain her a gold medal at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.

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In 1993 Gunnell broke the world record for the 400m hurdles with an astonishing time of 52.74 seconds, a record which still remains to this day in 2020. This is something that Sally is still extremely proud of but her enthusiasm for the future of the sport means that she is also excited for it to be beaten in style. As with many successful former athletes, Sally finds it difficult to quantify her many triumphs yet this shall forever be an achievement which gives her the most amount of pride. Irrespective of when or how that record will eventually be broken, Sally remains proud that it’s been unbeaten for over a quarter of a century and for that it is one of her greatest achievements.


The 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta was to be Sally’s last before retirement from competitive sport. Yet her analysis of the sport would inform the next part of her career when she joined BBC sports presenting team and presided over live sporting events. For over ten years, Sally became a mainstay of BBC Athletics and managed to climb the ranks from pundit to presenter. She loved her time with the BBC as it gave her the unique opportunity to maintain her presence in her sport. Despite her passion for the game, by the middle of the noughties, Sally was up for a new challenge. 


Following a suggestion from her friend and fellow sporting legend Roger Black, Sally made the bold move to branch out into motivational speaking. Inspired by her own career, she started to perform sessions to the corporate world and realised that it was something that appealed to her. Today, Sally has expanded her company to cover mental wellbeing which has become a hot topic on political agenda and has gradually become more prevalent in modern society. This is definitely a passion project for the former athlete who has always been conscious to give something back into the community. It seems that irrespective of unrivalled athletic success, Sally has always realised the significance of community spirit and this project epitomises this. It was a great pleasure to interview the great Sally Gunnell and wish her the very best of luck with the rest of her remarkable career.