Dorothy Manley
Manley at the 1950 European championships
Personal information
Full nameDorothy Gladys Manley
Born(1927-04-29)29 April 1927
Manor Park, London, England
Died31 October 2021(2021-10-31) (aged 94)
Ilford, London, England
Height1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)
Weight51 kg (112 lb)
CountryUnited Kingdom
ClubEssex Ladies Athletic Club
Achievements and titles
Olympic finals1948 Summer Olympics:
100m – Silver

Dorothy Gladys Manley (later Hall, then Parlett; 29 April 1927 – 31 October 2021) was a British sprinter. She competed in the 1948 Summer Olympics, held in London, in the 100 metres where she won the silver medal with a time of 12.2 seconds. This made her the first British female to win an Olympic sprint medal. [1] She was also a medallist in the 1950 British Empire Games, and the 1950 European Athletics Championships. [2]

Early life

Manley was born in Manor Park, London, on 29 April 1927.[3] She was initially introduced into athletics by one of her school teachers and worked her way up from the school, to the district and then to running for her county before the Second World War.[3] Contrary to reports, she was not evacuated during the war. In 1942 she competed in an athletics meeting at Ashton playing fields where she ran in the 200 metres for the first time.[3]

Athletic career

She raced for the Essex Ladies athletics club.[3] Manley was added to a national list of potential Olympians in late 1947, and assigned to train with Sandy Duncan.[3] She began her training for the 1948 Summer Olympics early in March 1948, training on the track four times a week, but never using the gym. Manley described the trials as a "fiasco", having finished fifth at the Women's Amateur Athletic Association Championships, but was still picked to represent the United Kingdom. She was working full-time during 1948 for the Suez Canal Company as a typist,[1] and used her summer holidays to attend the games although the leave was unpaid by her employer.[3]

She was originally accepted for the Olympics as a high jumper, but her coach told her she wouldn't make the grade and trained her to be a sprinter in just five months. [1]

Her mother made her running vest and shorts for the Games, but she was given the blazer and skirt for the opening ceremony. While at the Games, she travelled to and from Wembley on the London Underground, as she was sharing a room with two other athletes near Eccleston Square in central London.[citation needed]

She qualified for the women's 100 metres final, and finished in second place, winning the silver medal in her first international athletics event.[3] Fanny Blankers-Koen won the gold medal in first place with a time of 11.9, while Manley's time was 12.2, just ahead of Shirley Strickland de la Hunty, who registered the same time.[3] Manley described her start in the race as the "best of her life",[3] having described her normal starts as notoriously bad. She thought that this may have actually distracted her as her start was so good that she was expecting the race to be recalled.[3]

She won the WAAA Championships title for 200 m at the 1950 meeting at White City Stadium, which was her only WAAA title.[3] At the 1950 British Empire Games in New Zealand, she was asked after arrival if she would like to compete in the high jump – only then finding out that she had been entered in the event without her knowledge. With minimal training in the time available, she competed in the event and finished in fourth position behind Dorothy Tyler, Bertha Crowther and Noelene Swinton. She was part of the women's relay teams at the Games, and won silver in the 660 yards relay and bronze in the 440 yards relay. The team won gold in the 4 × 100 m relay at the 1950 European Athletics Championships. She described that race as particularly exciting as they had beaten the Dutch team, which included Fanny Blankers-Koen.[3]

Manley retired from athletics in 1952 after suffering from a thyroid condition.[3]

Personal life

Manley married twice, first in 1949 to Peter Hall, who died in 1973, and then in 1979 to John Parlett,[3] a middle-distance runner she knew from the 1948 Olympics.[4] In 2012 Manley had three children, five grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.[5]

Manley died on 31 October 2021, at the age of 94.[6][7][1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Dorothy Manley obituary".
  2. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Dorothy Manley". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Aitken, Alastair. "Dorothy Manley – Silver medalist London Olympics 1948". Highgate Harriers. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  4. ^ Thordardottir, Ingibjorg (26 August 2008). "Keep it simple say 1948 Olympians". BBC News. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  5. ^ Kleebauer, Alistair (6 May 2012) Woodford Green Olympian recalls storming to silver in 100m final of 1948 London Games.
  6. ^ Henderson, Jason (3 November 2021). "Olympic sprint medallist Dorothy Manley dies aged 94". Athletics Weekly.
  7. ^ "Dorothy Manley". Olympedia. Retrieved 8 November 2021.