Colin Jackson

This article is about the Welsh athlete. For other people called Colin Jackson, see Colin Jackson (disambiguation).
Colin Jackson

Colin Jackson
Personal information
Nationality Welsh
Born (1967-02-18) 18 February 1967
Cardiff, Wales
Height 1.82 m (5 ft 11 12 in)
Weight 75 kg (165 lb; 11.8 st)
Sport Running, hurdling
Club Brecon Athletics Club

Colin Ray Jackson, CBE (born 18 February 1967) is a Welsh former sprint and hurdling athlete who specialised in the 110 metres hurdles. During a career in which he represented Great Britain and Wales, he won an Olympic silver medal, became world champion twice, World indoor champion once, went undefeated at the European Championships for 12 years and was a two-time Commonwealth champion. His world record of 12.91 seconds for the 110m hurdles stood for over a decade and he remains the 60 metres hurdles world record holder.[1]

Jackson won his first major medal, a silver, in the 110 m hurdles, at the age of nineteen at the 1986 Commonwealth Games. He soon established himself on the global scene, taking bronze at the 1987 World Championships in Athletics and a silver medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics. After winning another silver in the 60 metres hurdles at the 1989 IAAF World Indoor Championships, he won European and Commonwealth gold medals in 1990. The 1993 season saw him reach the pinnacle of his sport: after a silver at the 1993 Indoor Worlds, he went on to set a world record of 12.91 seconds to become the 1993 World Champion. This mark was unbeaten for almost thirteen years and remains the world championship record. Jackson also helped the British 4×100 metres relay team to the world silver medal.

This period was perhaps Jackson's most successful – he had a streak of 44 races undefeated between 1993 and 1995. In addition to European and Commonwealth golds outdoors in 1994, he set another world record, running 7.30 seconds in the 60 m hurdles. A double gold at the 1994 European Athletics Indoor Championships in the 60 m hurdles and sprint events saw him set a European record of 6.49 seconds over 60 metres. Injury affected his 1995–1996 seasons and he finished only fourth at the 1996 Olympics. He returned to the global podium in 1997 but took silver twice – behind Anier García at the Indoor World Championships and Allen Johnson in the World Outdoors. After winning the European Championships for a third consecutive time in 1998 he became world champion indoors and out in 1999. He finished fifth at the 2000 Summer Olympics and his last major medals came in 2002, taking European indoor and outdoor gold and a Commonwealth silver.

After a period of sports management and coaching, he now works as a sports commentator for athletics and television presenter (predominantly for the BBC). He has appeared in Strictly Come Dancing in 2005, as well as a number of other entertainment and factual TV shows, and is a well known face on British television.

Early life

Jackson, born in Cardiff, South Wales, is of Jamaican, Maroon, Taino, and Scottish ancestry.[2] He is the brother of actress Suzanne Packer who played Tess Bateman in the BBC One hospital drama Casualty. Jackson grew up in Birchgrove, attending Birchgrove Primary School and then Llanedeyrn High School. He played football and cricket for the county and rugby union and basketball for his school and joined the athletics club Birchgrove Harriers, which nurtured his talent.

Athletics career

Under coach and close friend Malcolm Arnold, Jackson started out as a promising decathlete before switching to high hurdles. He won gold at the 1986 World Junior Championships and he soon switched to the senior ranks. Following a silver medal in the 1986 Commonwealth Games, he won the 110m hurdles silver at the 1988 Olympic Games behind Roger Kingdom. Although his career as an active competitor in the event would last a further fifteen years, the last ten of these as world record holder, and see him twice crowned World Champion, twice Commonwealth Champion and four times European Champion, this would remain his only Olympic medal of any colour. In 1992 he was restricted by a minor injury and could only finish 7th, and in 1996 he came fourth and in 2000, fifth.

He set his world record for the 110 metres hurdles on 20 August 1993, winning his first World Championships gold medal in Stuttgart, Germany in 12.91 s. The new mark (also a championship record) shaved 0.01 s off the previous record held by Kingdom and stood for nearly thirteen years, only being equalled by Liu Xiang in the 2004 Summer Olympics and finally beaten by the same man on 11 July 2006 at the Super Grand Prix in Lausanne with a time of 12.88 s. However, Jackson remains sole holder of the indoor world record at the 60 metres hurdles with a time of 7.30 seconds set in Sindelfingen, Germany on 6 March 1994. At the 1994 European Indoor Championships he became a double European champion: winning in both the 60 metres hurdles and 60 metres sprint race as well. His 60 m dash time of 6.49 s was a European record, as well as a championship record. These records remained unbeaten for 5 years, when Jason Gardener ran 6.46 s in 1999 in Maebashi, Japan.

Jackson at the 2007 European Cup

The aforementioned achievements coincided with one of the high points of Jackson's career: he was unbeaten between 29 August 1993 and 9 February 1995. He won forty-four races consecutively in this period.[3] His winning time at the 1994 Commonwealth Games was a Commonwealth Games record.

Jackson was a master of the "dip" – the skill of leaning forward at the end of a race to advance the position of the shoulders and improve times (and potentially positions). He was also renowned for being a particularly fast starter, which led to a great deal of success in 60m events. Jackson's technical hurdling ability distinguished him from his peers whether they were faster than him or not.

He was the subject of controversy in 1998 when he decided to run for cash in Tokyo, Japan, rather than compete in the Commonwealth Games for Wales.

Six years after his first world title, Jackson regained his 110m hurdles crown at the 1999 Seville World Championships. This was to be his last gold medal at the very highest level, but he added a final, fourth successive European Championships gold in the 2002 Munich European Championships, extending an unbroken reign as European Champion stretching back to 1990.

Whilst commonly linked to Linford Christie, Jackson is also believed to have been the originator of the quote "I started at the B of the Bang".

Post-retirement career

Jackson at the 2007 Highland Games

Since ending his professional career at the 2003 World Indoor Championships Jackson has been a coach, in athletics and other areas. He coached his close friend the swimmer Mark Foster until Foster's retirement in April 2006. He has coached two of Great Britain's top Olympic prospects, 400m runner Timothy Benjamin and 400m hurdler Rhys Williams. He was also one of the members of the successful London 2012 Olympic bid team and is a key member of the BBC's televisions athletics coverage. However, he started his broadcasting career in 2004 by co-hosting, with Sally Gunnell, the BBC reality TV programme Born to Win.

Already the holder of the MBE that he received in 1990 for his services to athletics, in 1999 he was promoted to OBE and then in 2003 to a CBE.[4]

The English reggae band Aswad name-checked him on their 1994 hit song Shine: Him a floating like a butterfly, the hurdling man – Yes, me-a-chat about Colin Jackson.

Jackson has written three books: the first, The Young Track and Field Athlete, was published in March 1996 by Dorling Kindersley; his second, Colin Jackson: The Autobiography, was published in April 2004 by BBC Books; and his last, Life's New Hurdles, was published in March 2008 by Accent Press Ltd as part of the Quick Read Initiative.

Since 2014 Jackson has been the race director of the Wings for Life World Run.[5]

Media career

After retiring from athletics, he became the face of BBC Raise Your Game with Colin Jackson in which he talked to high-profile international stars about the importance of learning. Participants included Luol Deng, Jenson Button, Davina McCall, and stars from Strictly Come Dancing, to name but a few.

His work as a BBC athletics commentator and pundit began with the 2004 Athens Olympics. Since then he has been a regular member of the BBC team covering athletics events.[6]

He is a Director of multimedia production company Red Shoes, along with fellow Director and former BBC Executive Producer Richard Owen. Their clients include the IAAF and UEFA.

Jackson at a charity event in 2005

Jackson, who is of Jamaican descent, was the subject of an episode of the BBC TV genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?,[7] broadcast in the UK on 20 September 2006. Genetic tests showed his ancestry to be 55% African, 7% Native American (believed to be from Jamaican Maroon ancestry on his father's side), and 38% European. His mother was born in Panama, the daughter of Richard Augustus Packer and Gladys McGowan Campbell. Gladys Campbell was from Jamaica, the daughter of a Scottish man Duncan Campbell and his housemaid Albertina Wallace.[8]

In March 2007 Jackson starred as the 'hidden celebrity' in an episode of the award winning CBBC gameshow Hider in the House, hosted by JK and Joel.

In March 2008, in an interview with The Voice newspaper, Jackson denied claims that he is gay, adding that he believed the stigma surrounding gay athletes to be a thing of the past.[9]

In 2008, Jackson co-hosted, with Louise Minchin, the Sunday morning show Sunday Life on BBC One.

Colin Jackson appeared in the BBC One documentary The Making of Me on 31 July 2008, which attempted to find out what had made him such a talented athlete.[10] A sample of his leg muscle showed that he had 25% super-fast twitch fibres, when all previous athletes tested had only 2%. Family support was also thought to have been highly significant. Jamaicans are notable for the high level of support and encouragement they give their children in the area of sports. A notable clip showed a stadium in Jamaica with 30,000 people cheering on children taking part in an average school sports meet. Supporters included their peers, who seemed happy to cheer on their classmates who were 'good at sports'. Although Jackson was brought up in the UK, he remembers his parents cheering on Don Quarrie in the 1976 Olympics, inspiring him to want to 'be like that'.

In 2009 Jackson shared his writing tips on the adult learning website "BBC raw words". He features in a comedy short with Nina Wadia, Rowland Rivron and Anneka Rice about structuring a story, and also shares his writing tips gained from writing Life's New Hurdles.

In July 2010, Jackson was a comptetitor on the BBC television programme Celebrity MasterChef.

Jackson is also Zeitz Foundation Specialist for Culture.

In 2012 Jackson made a cameo appearance as himself in an episode of the UK TV comedy drama Stella. In 2015, he starred in the historical experience 24 Hours in the Past.

Strictly Come Dancing

In 2005 he appeared as one of the celebrity contestants on the BBC TV series Strictly Come Dancing, where he came second with his dance partner Erin Boag, just losing out to cricketer Darren Gough. In 2006 Jackson became the first competitor who had not won the main series to win the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special.

Red Shoes Academy

In 2012 Jackson launched the Red Shoes Academy, through which Olympic and Paralympic sports personalities deliver presentations to school assemblies to motivate youngsters to find the 'Champion Within'.

International competitions

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Great Britain and  Wales
1985 European Junior Championships Cottbus, East Germany 2nd 110 m hurdles 13.69
1986 World Junior Championships Athens, Greece 1st 110 m hurdles 13.44
Commonwealth Games Edinburgh, United Kingdom 2nd 110 m hurdles 13.42
1987 European Indoor Championships Liévin, France 2nd 60 m hurdles 7.63
World Indoor Championships Indianapolis, United States 4th 60 m hurdles 7.68
World Championships Rome, Italy 3rd 110 m hurdles 13.38
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea 2nd 110 m hurdles 13.28
1989 European Indoor Championships Hague, Netherlands 1st 60 m hurdles 7.59
World Indoor Championships Budapest, Hungary 2nd 60 m hurdles 7.45
World Cup Barcelona, Spain 2nd 110 m hurdles 12.95 (w)
1990 Commonwealth Games Auckland, New Zealand 1st 110 m hurdles 13.08
European Championships Split, Yugoslavia 1st 110 m hurdles 13.18
1991 World Championships Tokyo, Japan 2nd (h) 110 m hurdles 13.251
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain 7th 110 m hurdles 13.46
World Cup Havana, Cuba 1st 110 m hurdles 13.07
1993 World Indoor Championships Toronto, Canada 2nd 60 m hurdles 7.43
World Championships Stuttgart, Germany 1st 110 m hurdles 12.91
2nd 4x100 m relay 37.77
1994 European Indoor Championships Paris, France 1st 60 m 6.49
1st 60 m hurdles 7.41
Goodwill Games St. Petersburg, Russia 1st 110 m hurdles 13.29
Commonwealth Games Victoria, Canada 1st 110 m hurdles 13.08
European Championships Helsinki, Finland 1st 110 m hurdles 13.08
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 4th 110 m hurdles 13.19
1997 World Indoor Championships Paris, France 2nd 60 m hurdles 7.49
World Championships Athens, Greece 2nd 110 m hurdles 13.05
1998 Goodwill Games Uniondale, United States 4th 110 m hurdles 13.17
European Championships Budapest, Hungary 1st 110 m hurdles 13.02
World Cup Johannesburg, South Africa 2nd 110 m hurdles 13.11
1999 World Indoor Championships Maebashi, Japan 1st 60 m hurdles 7.38
World Championships Seville, Spain 1st 110 m hurdles 13.04
2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 5th 110 m hurdles 13.28
2001 Goodwill Games Brisbane, Australia 5th 110 m hurdles 13.63
2002 European Indoor Championships Vienna, Austria 1st 60 m hurdles 7.40
Commonwealth Games Manchester, United Kingdom 2nd 110 m hurdles 13.39
European Championships Munich, Germany 1st 110 m hurdles 13.11
2003 World Indoor Championships Birmingham, United Kingdom 5th 60 m hurdles 7.61

1Did not start in the semifinals

Personal bests



  1. 60 Metres Hurdles Records. IAAF (4 April 2009). Retrieved on 4 April 2009.
  2. Who Do You Think You Are – Colin Jackson. BBC Sport. Retrieved on 18 June 2009.
  3. Cram, Steve (2001). Colin Jackson captures the world record. BBC Sport. Retrieved on 1 September 2009.
  4. "BBC SPORT | Athletics | Jackson receives CBE". BBC News. 10 December 2003. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  7. "BBC ONE Autumn 2006". BBC. 18 July 2006.
  8. Nick Barratt, WDYTYA? Series three: Celebrity gallery – Colin Jackson, BBC History, 20 September 2006, accessed 27 September 2006
  9. "I'm not gay, I like being single says Olympic star Colin Jackson". Daily Mail. London. 10 March 2008.
  10. "BBC One – The Making of Me, Colin Jackson". 22 August 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  11. Colin Jackson. IAAF. Retrieved on 26 July 2014.


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Colin Jackson.
Preceded by
United States Roger Kingdom
Men's 110 m Hurdles World Record Holder
20 August 1993 – 11 July 2006
Succeeded by
China Liu Xiang
Preceded by
France Stéphane Caristan
Men's 110 m Hurdles European Record Holder
20 August 1993 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
United States Roger Kingdom
Men's 60 m Hurdles Indoor World Record Holder
6 March 1994 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
England Linford Christie
Men's European Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
England Jonathan Edwards
Sporting positions
Preceded by
United States Roger Kingdom
Men's 110 m Hurdles Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
United States Tony Dees
Preceded by
United States Tony Dees
Men's 110 m Hurdles Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
United States Allen Johnson
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