Tanni Grey-Thompson

The Right Honourable
The Baroness Grey-Thompson

Grey-Thompson at the 2005 London Marathon
Member of the House of Lords
Assumed office
23 March 2010
Personal details
Born Carys Davina Grey
(1969-07-26) 26 July 1969
Cardiff, Wales, UK
Citizenship UK
Nationality Welsh
Political party Crossbench
Spouse(s) Ian Thompson (1999-present)
Children 1 daughter
Alma mater Loughborough University
Occupation Politician; athlete; TV personality
Website tanni.co.uk
Nickname(s) Tanni Grey-Thompson

Sports career

Country  Great Britain
Sport Wheelchair racing
Disability Spina bifida
Disability class T53
Retired 2007
Now coaching Jade Jones[1]

Carys Davina "Tanni" Grey-Thompson,[2] Baroness Grey-Thompson, DBE, DL (born 26 July 1969) is a British former wheelchair racer, a parliamentarian and a television presenter.

Grey-Thompson was born with spina bifida and is a wheelchair user. She is one of the most successful disabled athletes in the UK. She graduated from Loughborough University in 1991 with a BA (Hons) degree in Politics and Social Administration.

She was christened Carys Davina Grey, but her sister referred to her as "tiny" when she first saw her, pronouncing it "tanni"; the nickname stuck.[3]

Her autobiography Seize the Day was published by Hodder and Stoughton in 2001.

Athletic career

Grey-Thompson's Paralympic career started in the 100m at the Junior National Games for Wales in 1984.

Her international career began in 1988 in Seoul, where she won a bronze medal in the 400m. As a young athlete she also competed in wheelchair basketball. Her fifth and last Paralympic Games were in Athens (2004) where she won two gold medals in wheelchair racing in the 100m and 400m.[4] In total in her Paralympic career she won 16 medals (11 gold, four silver and a bronze)[4] and also 13 World Championship medals (six gold, five silver and two bronze).

On 27 February 2007 Grey-Thompson announced her pending retirement, with her last appearance for Great Britain at May's Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.[5]

Over her career she won a total of 16 Paralympic medals, including 11 golds, held over 30 world records and won the London Marathon six times between 1992 and 2002.


In preparation for her retirement from the track, she expanded her television presenting career on BBC Wales and S4C, as well as BBC One. During her competitive career she sat on the board of the National Disability Council, The Sports Council for Wales, the English Lottery Awards Panel and UK Sport., and also sat for three years on the Mission 2012 panel (part of UK Sport).

Grey-Thompson currently sits on the board of the London Marathon (2007), the board of Transport for London (2008) and the London Legacy Development Corporation. She is Chair of the Women's Sports and Fitness Foundation Commission on the Future of Women's Sport. She chairs the board of ukactive.

Grey-Thompson is patron of numerous charities including Sportsleaders UK, a trustee of V, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme, Sportsaid Foundation and the Wembley Stadium Legacy Trust. She is an Academy member of the Laureus World Sport Academy and a trustee of the Sport for Good Foundation. She is also a Council member for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and an International Inspiration Ambassador.

As well as this she is the Patron of the Tees Wheelyboats Club, a group providing disabled people with access to the River Tees,[6] and a board member of the Tony Blair Sports Foundation.[7]

In July 2011 Grey-Thompson was announced as the President of the Leadership 20:20 Commission, the Commission on the future leadership of Civil Society. She launched the Commission's recommendations in Parliament on 14 December 2011.

Parliamentary career

On 23 March 2010, Grey-Thompson was created a Life Peer on the recommendation of the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC). Despite previously suggesting a desire for a title with a Welsh connection,[8] her title was conferred as Baroness Grey-Thompson, of Eaglescliffe in the County of Durham on 23 March 2010.[9]

Grey-Thompson was introduced in the House of Lords on 29 March,[10] swearing the oath of allegiance in both English and Welsh and sits as a crossbencher.[11]

In August 2014, Grey-Thompson was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[12]


In 1993 she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)[13] for "services to sport", advanced in 2000 to Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)[14] again for "services to sport" and then in 2005 was promoted to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).[15]

She has received numerous honorary degrees including Honorary Doctorates from Oxford University, the University of Greenwich, Bath University, Newcastle University, Oxford Brookes University, Liverpool John Moores, the University of Leicester, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Hull, University of Exeter, Heriot Watt University, the Open University, University of Wales Newport, the University of Wales, Leeds Metropolitan University, Loughborough University (both a Master and Doctorate), Teesside University, York and Ripon College, University of Swansea, University of Glamorgan, UWIC, University of Surrey, Southampton University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Staffordshire University and Cardiff University. Grey-Thompson received a Lifetime Achievement Award and another Honorary Doctorate from the University of East London in May 2011, at the university's annual Sports Award evening held at West Ham United's Upton Park stadium.

Grey-Thompson was named the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year three times; in 1992, 2000 and 2004. In 2000, she came third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, behind Steve Redgrave and Denise Lewis. That year she also received the Helen Rollason Award for her performance at the 2000 Summer Paralympics. In August 2009, she was made a member of the Gorsedd at the 2009 National Eisteddfod in Bala, Gwynedd.[16]

Willenhall School Sports College, West Midlands has named a house in her honour, where each of the eight houses is named after influential sports stars and local heroes. Roundwood Park School set up a house system in 2011. In July 2012, the blue house became Grey-Thompson house.

In November 2012 she was appointed to the three-person commission that has been set up by the Union Cycliste Internationale to investigate the Lance Armstrong doping affair.[17]

In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[18]

In July 2013, she received another honorary Doctor of Science (HonDSc) in recognition of her outstanding service to disability and to disadvantaged people, and to her promotion of sport and the Paralympic Games.[19]

On 15 June 2016 she was awarded the degree of Doctor of Law (honoris causa) by the University of Cambridge.[20]

Personal life

Grey-Thompson attended St Cyres Comprehensive School. She is married to Dr Ian Thompson, a research chemist and former wheelchair athlete. They live at Eaglescliffe, County Durham; they have one daughter.

Paralympic World Cup medals

Year Event Position
2005 100 m 1st
2005 400 m 1st
2007 200 m 2nd

Styles and honours


Note - #^ British Disabled Flying Association (2005). Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson OBE, MBE – new patron for the BDFA. Retrieved 31 December 2005

  1. Profile, ipc-athletics.paralympic.org; accessed 7 April 2016.
  2. The London Gazette: no. 59333. p. 2425. 12 February 2010.
  3. "Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson becomes people's peer". BBC News. 29 March 2010.
  4. 1 2 Results for Tanni Grey* from the International Paralympic Committee
  5. Grey Thompson confirms retirement, BBC Sport, 28 February 2007
  6. Hole, Chris (26 September 2011). "Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson launches new River Tees Wheelyboat". Evening Gazette. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  7. Tony Blaire Sports Foundation Board Members
  8. Tomos Livingstone (6 February 2010). "Baroness Tanni determined her title will have a Welsh connection". Western Mail. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  9. The London Gazette: no. 59375. p. 5330. 26 March 2010.
  10. House of Lords – Hansard
  11. Profile, dodonline.co.uk; accessed 7 April 2016.
  12. "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". theguardian.com. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  13. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 53153. p. 14. 31 December 1992.
  14. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 55710. p. 17. 31 December 1999.
  15. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57509. p. 7. 31 December 2004.
  16. "Gorsedd honour for female stars". BBC Wales. 23 June 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  17. Slater, Matt (30 November 2012). "BBC Sport - Lance Armstrong affair: Tanni Grey-Thompson on investigation panel". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  18. BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list, bbc.co.uk; accessed 7 April 2016.
  19. "Paralympic athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson receives honorary degree at Rochester Cathedral". kentonline.co.uk. 31 July 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  20. http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2015-16/weekly/6431/section9.shtml#heading2-48
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