Katharine Merry
2013 Great North CityGames Pole Vault - Luke Cutts and Kath Merry cropped.jpg
Katherine Merry for BBC Sport interviewing British pole vaulter Luke Cutts at the 2013 Gateshead Great City Games vault
Personal information
Born (1974-09-21) 21 September 1974 (age 47)
Dunchurch, Warwickshire
Coached byLinford Christie

Katharine Merry (born 21 September 1974) is an English former sprinter. She won the bronze medal in the 400 metres at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and was the fastest woman in the world over 400 m in 2001, with her career best of 49.59 seconds. She also represented Great Britain at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and won the 200 metres at the 1993 European Junior Championships.


Born in Dunchurch, Warwickshire, Merry had a career that spanned 20 years. A member of the Birchfield Harriers athletics club, at the age of 12 she topped the UK Under 13 rankings in seven different events. She was the fastest girl in the world aged 14 years, and started her international GB career aged just 13, staying on the junior team for a record six years, winning five Junior Championships and a total of six medals. She became a successful senior athlete with her Olympic medal in Sydney in the "Race of the Games", winning bronze behind the Australian favourite, Cathy Freeman, in front of 112,000 people at Stadium Australia.

The following year she became World number One. She was coached by fellow Olympic medallist Linford Christie in his Cardiff-based training squad, which included fellow Olympic medallist Darren Campbell. She is also with Christie's sports agency, Nuff Respect. Merry still holds various UK age-record bests, including U/13 high jump and several sprints, as well as the Senior UK Indoor 200 m record of 22.83 secs. She also holds World age-records, including 7.35 secs for 60 m indoors, when aged 14. She is third-fastest on the UK All Time 400 m list with a time of 49.59 seconds.[1]

After suffering from a bone spur growth on her right heel bone, and two operations, Merry announced her official retirement from athletics in July 2005.[2] She had been affected by the injury since 2001 and was struggling to get it fully healed. It had prevented her from resuming proper training, meaning she could not get back to her year 2000 form. Despite that, she still ended the 2001 season as the world's fastest female 400 m runner.[3]


Merry now works freelance in the media on radio and TV. She worked for the BBC at the Olympics in Beijing and London[4] and was the sole field event commentator for the Channel 4 coverage of the Paralympic Games in 2012. At the inaugural Invictus Games in 2014, Merry did live trackside interviews.[5] She has also worked for Sky TV, Eurosport and Channel Five. A multi-tasker, Merry now commentates, presents and hosts sporting events around the world.[6]

Merry appeared on the BBC One gameshow All New Celebrity Total Wipeout on 25 September 2010, where she struck up a rivalry with John Regis, the man who, in her words, "ate all the pies". She "ran" the qualifier in 2:16, beating Regis by 50 seconds, and then beating him again in the next two rounds, but losing finally in the Wipeout Zone, finishing third behind Regis and eventual winner DJ JK. She won overall, 3 events to 1.[7]

She is a regular on BBC One's A Question of Sport and BBC Radio 5 Live's Fighting Talk. In December 2013, Merry came third out of four contestants on Celebrity Mastermind on BBC One. Her specialist subject was Aston Villa F.C. 1980–1990.[8]

Merry was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.[9]

At the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Merry became the first female in-stadium announcer at an Olympic Games.[10]

Personal life

Merry was based in Cardiff while training with Linford Christie, before moving to Bristol after retirement.[11] Merry married her partner Leon Daniels, a recruitment consultant, in September 2014. Their son was born in February 2011 and their daughter in March 2014. The family lives in Birmingham.[12][13]

She is a supporter of Aston Villa football club.[8]

International competitions

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing the  Great Britain
1989 European Junior Championships Varaždin, Yugoslavia 7th 100 m 11.84
5th 200 m 24.05
1990 World Junior Championships Plovdiv, Bulgaria 8th 100m 11.71 (wind: +0.9 m/s)
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 44.16
1991 European Junior Championships Thessaloniki, Greece 3rd 200 m 23.84
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 44.57
1992 World Junior Championships Seoul, South Korea 6th 100m 11.63 (wind: +0.3 m/s)
5th 200m 23.59 (wind: +0.3 m/s)
4th 4 × 100 m relay 44.62
1993 European Junior Championships San Sebastián, Spain 2nd 100 m 11.58
1st 200 m 23.35
1st 4 × 100 m relay 44.31
1993 World Championships Stuttgart, Germany 22nd (qf) 200 m 23.46
1994 European Cup Birmingham, United Kingdom 2nd 100 m 11.34
2nd 200 m 23.38
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 43.46
1994 European Championships Helsinki, Finland 15th (sf) 200m 23.55 (wind: +0.3 m/s)
5th 4 × 100 m relay 43.63
1996 European Cup Madrid, Spain 3rd 200 m 22.88
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 19th (qf) 200 m 23.17
8th 4 × 100 m relay 43.93
1997 World Championships Athens, Greece 32nd (qf) 200 m 23.98
1998 European Championships Budapest, Hungary semifinal 200 m 23.38
3rd 4 × 400 m relay 3:25.66
1999 World Championships Seville, Spain 5th 400 m 50.52
2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 3rd 400 m 49.72
6th 4 × 400 m relay 2:25.67

Personal bests

Event Venue Time Date
60m (indoors) Glasgow 7.34 23/01/94
100m Birmingham 11.34 25/06/94
200m Barcelona 22.76 (−1.0w) 25/07/00
200m (indoors) Birmingham 22.83 UK Record 14/02/99
300m Gateshead 36.00 28/08/00
400m Athens 49.59 11/06/01
400m (indoors) Birmingham 50.53 18/02/01


  1. ^ "400 Metres - women - senior - outdoor". www.worldathletics.org. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  2. ^ Katharine Merry: 'I had surgery twice, then illness almost stopped my breathing. In the end, I couldn't go on' | Sport | The Observer
  3. ^ "400 Metres - women - senior - outdoor". www.worldathletics.org. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  4. ^ "Nuff Respect". Archived from the original on 16 June 2007.
  5. ^ "Katharine Merry". birmingham.livingmag.co.uk. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  6. ^ "Live Event Hosting & Commentary". Katharine Merry. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  7. ^ "BBC One - Total Wipeout, Series 3, Celebrity Special 2". BBC.
  8. ^ a b Cartledge, James (12 November 2013). "Ex-Birchfield Harriers sprinter Katharine Merry quizzed on Aston Villa for Mastermind". BirminghamLive. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  9. ^ "Greats of the sport honoured in 2018 Hall of Fame inductions". englandathletics.org. 13 October 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  10. ^ Abrahams, Celine (23 June 2021). "Katharine Merry to Become First Female Commentator at Olympics in Tokyo". gsport4girls. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  11. ^ Mount, Harry (25 October 2002). "Portrait of a driver: Katharine Merry" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  12. ^ Laws, Roz (24 July 2011). "Olympic medal winner Katharine Merry loses out in race for London Olympic tickets". BirminghamLive. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  13. ^ Hurst, Ben (16 March 2014). "Birmingham 400 metre Olympic medallist Katharine Merry celebrates birth of daughter". BirminghamLive. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
Preceded byBeverly Kinch British Champion in 100 m 1994 Succeeded byPaula Dunn Thomas Preceded byAllison Curbishley British Champion in 400 m 1999 Succeeded byDonna Fraser