Kirsty Wade

Kirsty Wade
Personal information
Born 6 August 1962

Kirsty Wade (née McDermott, born 6 August 1962) is a former middle distance runner who competed for Great Britain and Wales. She is a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, winning the 800 metres in Brisbane 1982 and both the 800 metres and 1500 metres in Edinburgh 1986. She competed at the 1988 Olympic Games and the 1992 Olympic Games. She is also a former British record holder in the 800m and the mile.


Wade was born in Girvan, Scotland, moved to Llandrindod Wells, Wales aged 3 and attended school there. She trained in the Elan Valley and joined Brecon Athletic Club as an 11-year-old. As Kirsty McDermott, she won the 1976 AAAs National Under 15 800 m title in 2:11.1 and the 1977 AAAs U17 title in 2:07.74. In 1979, she finished 6th at the European Junior Championships in Poland, running 2:04.72. She first came to senior prominence in 1982, when she won the Commonwealth Games 800 metres title in Brisbane, representing Wales, winning in 2:01.31, just ahead of Scotland's Anne Clarkson (later Purvis), who ran 2:01.52.

After a disappointing 1984, when she failed to qualify for the Olympics, she made a major advance in 1985. At 800 metres, she improved her three-year-old PB of 2:00.56, to set a UK record of 1:57.42, breaking Christina Boxer's six-year-old mark of 1:59.05. This made her the third British woman, after Boxer and Shireen Bailey, to run sub 2:00 minutes for 800 metres. The record would stand for ten years. She also broke the UK record for the mile with 4:19.41 in Oslo. This made her only the fourth woman in history to run a sub 4:20 mile, after Mary Decker, Maricica Puica and Natalya Artyomova. The record would stand for only a month, as Zola Budd ran 4:17.57 in Zurich. American magazine Track & Field News ranked her in the top 10 on their world merit rankings, at both 800 metres (#8) and 1500 m/mile (#9).

In 1986, now competing as Kirsty Wade and living in the north-east of England (she became a member of Blaydon Harriers Athletic Club), she became the first woman to achieve the 800 m/1500 m double at the Commonwealth Games, when she won in Edinburgh. She won the 800 metres in 2:00.94, ahead of England's Diane Edwards and Lorraine Baker. In the 1500 m, she defeated the Canadian pair, Debbie Bowker and Lynn Williams in 4:10.91. Later that year at the European Championships in Stuttgart, she finished seventh in the 1500 metres final in 4:04.99. In the Track & Field News world merit rankings, she ranked #5 in the 1500/mile top ten.

In June 1987, Wade scored one of her biggest career wins, when she won the European Cup 1500 metres in Prague, defeating future World and Olympic champion Tatyana Samolenko. In July, she ran her lifetime best for the 1500 m with 4:00.73 in Gateshead. In August, she ran her 3000 metres best of 8:47.7. She remains one of only three British woman, along with Christina Boxer and Hannah England, to have run sub two-minutes for the 800 metres and sub nine-minutes for the 3000 metres. Then in September, in the 1500 m final at the World Championships in Rome (won by Samolenko), she was sixth in 4:01.41. She originally finished seventh but was promoted after the disqualification of Sandra Gasser. For the third consecutive year, she ranked in the top ten at 1500/mile, in the Track & Field News merit rankings, at #6.

At the 1988 AAAs National Championships in Birmingham, incorporating the British Olympic trials, Wade won the 800 m and was third in the 1500 m, earning selection for both events. At the Olympic Games in Seoul, she reached the semi-finals of the 800 metres, running 2:00.86, while in the 1500 metres, she ran a disappointing 4:08.37 in the heats, failing to reach the final.

Wade's next major competition was the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, having missed the 1990 season through pregnancy. In Tokyo, she finished sixth in the 1500 metres final in 4:05.16. She qualified for her second Olympic Games in 1992 . In Barcelona, she ran 4:08.30, to reach the semi-finals of the 1500 metres, where she was eliminated in 4:11.36.

She is the current Welsh record holder for the 800 metres and the Mile. Her 1500 m record being broken by Hayley Tullet in 2003. As of 2015, on the UK all-time lists, Wade ranks second at 800 metres (to Kelly Holmes), second at 1000 metres (to Holmes), eighth at 1500 metres and second at the Mile (to Zola Budd). Her mile best, still ranks her 14th on the world all-time list.

Later career

Wade became an Olympic Torchbearer for the 2012 London Olympics, carrying the torch through Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis on the morning of 11 May 2012. Wade was nominated for her community sports development work on the Isle of Lewis, where she now lives with her husband Tony and their children.

Personal bests


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Great Britain /  Wales
1979 European Junior Championships Bydgoszcz, Poland 6th 800 metres 2:04.72
1982 Commonwealth Games Brisbane, Australia 1st 800 metres 2:01.31
1985 European Indoor Championships Piraeus, Greece 6th 800 metres 2:07.98
European Cup Moscow, Russia 4th 800 metres 1:57.48
1986 European Indoor Championships Madrid, Spain 4th 800 metres 2:03.69
Commonwealth Games Edinburgh, Scotland 1st 800 metres 2:00.94
1st 1500 metres 4:10.91
European Championships Stuttgart, West Germany 7th 1500 metres 4:04.99
1987 World Indoor Championships Indianapolis, United States 5th 1500 metres 4:08.91
European Cup Prague, Czechoslovakia 1st 1500 metres 4:09.03
World Championships Rome, Italy 6th 1500 metres 4:01.41
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea semi-final 800 metres 2:00.86
heats 1500 metres 4:08.37
1991 World Championships Tokyo, Japan 6th 1500 metres 4:05.16
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain semi-final 1500 metres 4:11.36 (4:08.30 in heat)



  1. Kubatko, Justin. "Kirsty Wade Biography and Olympic Results". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
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