Daley Thompson

The Eighties were the high point of athletic superstardom in the UK as track and field meets and terrestrial television coverage of them simultaneously reached their respective apogees of popularity. But while Coe, Cram and Ovett all jostled each other for the title of greatest middle distance runner, and Sanderson and Whitbread went bicep to beard in the javelin, none of them could match the all round sporting prowess and easy grace with which legendary decathlete, Francis Morgan Oyodélé Thompson aka Daley Thompson, became the UK's number one sporting hero.

Born to a Nigerian father and Scottish mother in July 1958 in Notting Hill, London, young Daley showed an aptitude for sport early on in life at boarding school. In 1975, as a member of the Essex Beagles Athletics Club, Thompson entered and won his first decathlon. Just a year later he came 18th in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

The European junior title came next in 1977 and in 1978 he won what was to be the first of three Commonwealth Games golds. The following year was a tough one for Thompson, and he failed to complete the only decathlon he entered although he did win the long jump at the UK Athletics Championships.

The new decade heralded a new era for Thompson, and in 1980 he opened his season with a decathlon world record points tally of 8,648 in Austria. The controversial 1980 Olympics in Moscow, which saw the USA boycott the event in protest at the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan, saw Thompson comfortably take his first Olympic gold.

While many tried to belittle his achievement because of the absence of the Americans at the event, Thompson went on to silence his critics setting a new world record points total of 8,730 in 1982 and then again at the European Championships in Athens in the same year where he raised the bar to 8,774.

The 1984 Olympics proved a tougher challenge as Thompson went head to head with the new world record holder, Jurgen Hingsen. However, Thompson triumphed and became only the second ever man to win two Olympic golds in the decathlon and although he never broke the record at the event, the points he accrued, 8, 847, still stand as a UK record.

Daley Thompson's, sporting success, good looks and affable manner made him ripe for stardom and he became a firm favourite with the British public, who especially enjoyed his whistling of the UK national anthem, God Save The Queen, when collecting his gold medal at Los Angeles, 1984.

Thompson also won the coveted BBC Sport Personality of the Year Award, and received the honours of MBE (1982), OBE (1986) and CBE (2000) for his achievements and services to sport.

Forced to retire from athletics in 1992 because of a hamstring injury, Thompson went on to play professional football for Mansfield Town and Stevenage Borough FC before going on to work as fitness coach for Wimbledon and Luton Town.

Today Daley Thompson is popular on the after dinner speaking circuit and is also on the you2uk.com list of Great Britons for a lifetime of achievement refreshingly unmarred by drink, drugs or deviant activity.