Famous British Athletes

Do you know what’s an athlete made up of? Though one may argue, it’s the usual flesh and blood they have something more than that. Lighting speed, unswerving accuracy, strong determination, powerful endurance and superb eye-hand coordination separates athletes from common people. Though they come out from the common group of people, it is their dedication to sports and their determination to succeed that helps them stand out. Britain has been mecca of such sporting legends who have commanded the highest positions in track and field athletics. Their feats are remarkable and their achievements immeasurable. Through their unwavering dedication and resolute determination, they have earned a high place in sports in the world. Be it Lord Coe’s spectacular middle-distance running during the 1980s that has made him a living legend of Britain today, or the current British record holder Greg Rutherford’s long jump victories in Olympics, Commonwealth and European Championship games, the country has many proud achievers. Current women world record holder in marathon is British Paula Radcliffe who has three London and New York Marathon Championships each in her kitty as well as one Chicago marathon Championship. Other prominent British athletes include Morgan Lake, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah, Daley Thompson, Derek Redmond and so on. Check this section to know more about famous British athletes.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Katarina Johnson-Thompson

Katarina Johnson-Thompson
Famous As: Athletics competitor
Birthdate: January 9, 1993
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Liverpool

Katarina Johnson-Thompson is an English heptathlete whose performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games earned her a gold medal. She also won the gold at the 2019 World Championships. Katarina Johnson-Thompson holds the British record for the women's pentathlon with 5,000 points. A highly talented athlete, Katarina Johnson-Thompson also holds the British records for high jump in both outdoors and indoors.

 2 Paula Radcliffe

Paula Radcliffe
Famous As: Marathon runner, Long-distance runner, Athletics competitor
Birthdate: December 17, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Northwich

Paula Radcliffe is a retired distance runner, credited with winning the London Marathon and the New York Marathon three times each. Born into an athletic family, she emerged as a running talent by the time she was in her teens, winning the world junior cross-country title at the age of nineteen, eventually. She held the Women's World Marathon Record from 2003 to 2019.

 3 Sebastian Coe

Sebastian Coe
Famous As: Middle Distance Runner, Politician
Birthdate: September 29, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hammersmith

Sebastian Coe is a politician and former athlete who represented Great Britain in two Olympic events. He won four Olympic medals including two gold medals as a middle-distance runner. In 2012, he was inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame. The same year, Coe was honored at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. 

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 4 Roger Bannister

Roger Bannister
Famous As: Former British Athlete Who Ran The First Sub-Four-Minute Mile
Birthdate: March 23, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Harrow, England

British middle-distance athlete and neurologist Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister was the first athlete to run a mile in less than four minutes. Before achieving such feat, Bannister set a British record in the 1500 metres during the 1952 Summer Olympics. In the medical field, Bannister became a neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford.

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 5 Mo Farah

Mo Farah
Famous As: Athlete
Birthdate: March 23, 1983
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mogadishu
Long-distance runner Mo Farah shot to fame with his 10,000-meter and 5,000-meter wins at the 2012 London Olympics. The first athlete to score a quadruple double, Farah has won 10 major international titles. He became the European Athlete of the Year thrice and has also received the CBE.

 6 Jessica Ennis-Hill

Jessica Ennis-Hill
Famous As: Track & Field Athlete
Birthdate: January 28, 1986
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sheffield, United Kingdom

Jessica Ennis-Hill is a British retired track and field athlete. She specialized in multi-eventing disciplines and 100 meters hurdles. In 2012, she won an Olympic gold in the heptathlon. She was introduced to sports as a young girl and immediately took an interest in athletics. She has won several other titles as well in addition to her Olympic gold. 

 7 Colin Jackson

Colin Jackson
Famous As: Athletics competitor
Birthdate: February 18, 1967
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cardiff

Colin Jackson is a Welsh former athlete who represented Wales and Great Britain during his career. Jackson, who specialized in hurdles, won the silver medal in the 110m hurdles at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. His world record for the 110m hurdles stood for more than ten years, while his world record for the 60m hurdles stood for almost 27 years.

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 8 Eddie Hall

Eddie Hall
Famous As: Athlete
Birthdate: January 15, 1988
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, UK

Eddie Hall is a British former professional strongman who won the World's Strongest Man 2017 competition. Previously, he had won the UK's Strongest Man and England's Strongest Man competitions many times. As a young man, he trained as a bodybuilder and entered the strongman circuit. He is the subject of the documentary titled Eddie: Strongman.

 9 Zola Budd

Zola Budd
Famous As: Two-time winner at the World Cross Country Championships (1985–1986)
Birthdate: May 26, 1966
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bloemfontein, South Africa

Zola Budd is a South African former athlete who used to compete in long-distance and middle-distance running. Budd represented Great Britain at the 1984 Olympic Games before representing South Africa at the 1992 Olympic Games. Zola Budd also took part in the 1985 and 1986 World Cross Country Championships, winning gold medals on both occasions.

 10 Alex Scott

Alex Scott
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: October 14, 1984
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England

Alex Scott is an English TV presenter and former professional football player. Apart from playing for popular clubs like Arsenal and Birmingham City, Scott also represented the women's national football team. She also played for Great Britain at the London Olympics. In 2019, she was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

 11 Denise Lewis

Denise Lewis
Famous As: Athletics competitor
Birthdate: August 27, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: West Bromwich

Denise Lewis is a British sports commentator and former athlete. She won the heptathlon gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and became the first European to win Olympic gold in the heptathlon. A two-time Commonwealth Games champion, Lewis also won silver medals in the 1997 and 1999 World Championships. She was also the 1998 European Champion. 

 12 Linford Christie

Linford Christie
Famous As: Retired Sprinter
Birthdate: April 2, 1960
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint Andrew, Jamaica

Linford Christie is a Jamaican-born British former sprinter who won gold medals in the 100 meters at the Olympic Games, the World Championships, the European Championships, and the Commonwealth Games. He is one of the most highly decorated British athletes of all time. He was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1993. 

 13 Kelly Holmes

Kelly Holmes
Famous As: Middle-distance runner
Birthdate: April 19, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tonbridge and Malling

Kelly Holmes is a retired English middle-distance athlete who specialized in the 800 meters and 1,500 meters events. She won gold medals for both distances at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Beginning her career with the British Army, she turned to professional athletics in 1993. She took part in her final major championship in 2004. 

 14 Greg Rutherford

Greg Rutherford
Famous As: Sprinter, Long jumper, Athletics competitor
Birthdate: November 17, 1986
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Milton Keynes

The great-grandson of English footballer Jock Rutherford, Greg Rutherford had a brief stint with Aston Villa football club before he focused on athletics. The Milton Keynes athlete won a gold at the 2012 London Olympics, while his 8.29m jump at the 2016 Rio Olympics won him a bronze medal.

 15 Daley Thompson

Daley Thompson
Famous As: Decathlete
Birthdate: July 30, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Notting Hill, London, United Kingdom

Daley Thompson is a British former athlete who specialized in decathlon. He has won gol medals in decathlon at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics. He also broke the world record for decathlon on four occasions. He also won three Commonwealth titles and is regarded as the greatest decathlete ever. 

 16 Ellen Whitaker

Ellen Whitaker
Famous As: Show jumper
Birthdate: March 5, 1986
Sun Sign: Pisces

Ellen Whitaker is an English show jumping rider. In September 2019, she was ranked 211 on the FEI riders' Longines Ranking list. She began competing at the tender age of five and qualified for the Horse Of The Year Show (HOYS) at just eight years old. She represented Great Britain in the European Championships in 2007. 

 17 Harold Abrahams

Harold Abrahams
Famous As: Athletics competitor, Sprinter, Lawyer, Journalist
Birthdate: December 15, 1899
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bedford
Died: January 14, 1978

English track and field athlete is best remembered for his gold medal win in the 100m race at the Paris Olympics in 1924. Part of the Achilles Club, he and his exploits inspired the 1981 film Chariots of Fire. Following his retirement, he became a broadcaster and sports administrator.

 18 Steve Cram

Steve Cram
Famous As: Athlete
Birthdate: October 14, 1960
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Jarrow, United Kingdom

Steve Cram is a British former athlete who dominated the middle-distance running event during the 1980s alongside other athletes like Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe. During the summer of 1985, Cram set world records in the mile run, 2000m, and 1500m during a 19-day period. He is the first person to run 1500m under three-and-a-half minutes.

 19 Helen Skelton

Helen Skelton
Famous As: Television presenter
Birthdate: July 19, 1983
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Carlisle, Cumbria, England

Best known for her work on BBC productions like Blue Pete, English television presenter Helen Skelton is also a trained lap dance teacher and an adventurer, who kayaked the entire length of River Amazon to raise fund for Sports Relief 2020. Author of Amy Wild: Amazon Summer, she is also the first person to reach South Pole using a bicycle.

 20 Chris Hoy

Chris Hoy
Famous As: Sport cyclist, Racecar driver
Birthdate: March 23, 1976
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Edinburgh

Chris Hoy is a British racing driver and former track cyclist. A highly decorated Olympic cyclist, he is the recipient of six gold and one silver medals. He is also an 11-time World Champion. He announced his retirement from competitive cycling in 2013. He is also interested in motorsport and competed at the 2015 Race of Champions.

 21 Carl Frampton

Carl Frampton
Famous As: Boxer
Birthdate: February 21, 1987
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Belfast

Carl Frampton is a British former professional boxer who won the silver medal at the Men's 2007 European Union Amateur Boxing Championships where he represented Ireland. He held the IBF super-bantamweight and WBA (Unified) titles between 2014 and 2016. From 2016 to 2017, he held the WBA (Super) featherweight title.

 22 Tanni Grey-Thompson

Tanni Grey-Thompson
Famous As: Television presenter, Politician, Athletics competitor
Birthdate: July 26, 1969
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cardiff, Wales

Winner of 16 Paralympic medals, including 11 golds, Tanni Grey-Thompson is a former wheelchair racer, who won the London Marathon six times and held more than 30 world records. Also a successful television personality and patron of numerous charities, she was created a Life Peer in 2010 and made Baroness Grey-Thompson of Eaglescliffe in Stockton-On-Tees.

 23 Alun Wyn Jones

Alun Wyn Jones
Famous As: Rugby union player
Birthdate: September 19, 1985
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Swansea

Alun Wyn Jones is a Welsh rugby union player who is currently playing for the Ospreys. Jones is the current captain of the Wales national rugby team and has helped his team win  five Six Nations Championships. He has also won other important trophies, such as three Grand Slams, four Triple Crowns, three Doddie Weir Cups, and four Prince William Cups.

 24 James Cracknell

James Cracknell
Famous As: Rower
Birthdate: May 5, 1972
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sutton, London, England

James Cracknell is a British athlete who specializes in rowing. With six World Rowing Championships and two Olympic gold medals under his belt, Cracknell is regarded as one of the most successful English rowers of his generation. He is also known for his charitable activities; in 2008, he raised funds for the BBC's Sport Relief charity.

 25 Kriss Akabusi

Kriss Akabusi
Famous As: Athletics competitor
Birthdate: November 28, 1958
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paddington

Known for his signature laughter, Kriss Akabusi is a former track and field athlete who has three Olympic bronze medals to his credit. He also became a European Champion in 1990, breaking a 22-year British 400m hurdles record. He had previously also been part of the British Army.

 26 Victoria Pendleton

Victoria Pendleton
Famous As: Track cyclist, Sport cyclist, Autobiographer, Jockey
Birthdate: September 24, 1980
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Stotfold

Victoria Pendleton is a British former track cyclist who represented England and Great Britain in international cycling competitions. She dominated the individual sprint event from 2005 to 2012, winning a record six world titles in the individual sprint. Having won one Olympic silver medal and two gold medals, Pendleton is one of the most successful female Olympians from Great Britain.

 27 Jimmy White

Jimmy White
Famous As: Snooker player, Pool player, Screenwriter
Birthdate: May 2, 1962
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tooting

Jimmy White is an English senior snooker player. Nicknamed The Whirlwind because of his attacking style of play, he has won three seniors world titles.  He is currently ranked tenth on the all-time list of ranking event winners. He was the first left-handed player to record a maximum break at the World Championship. 

 28 Rebecca Adlington

Rebecca Adlington
Famous As: Swimmer
Birthdate: February 17, 1989
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mansfield

Rebecca Adlington made headlines with her double-gold win at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in which she aced both the 400m and 800m freestyle events. After retiring at 23, she has worked for BBC as a sports pundit and participated in shows such as I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

 29 Alistair Brownlee

Alistair Brownlee
Famous As: Triathlete
Birthdate: April 23, 1988
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dewsbury, England

Alistair Brownlee made history by becoming the only athlete with two Olympics medals in the triathlon event. His brother, Jonathan Brownlee, too, is a star athlete. Born to a runner father and a swimmer mother, he was introduced to triathlon by Simon Hearnshaw, his uncle, who was also an avid athlete.

 30 Tessa Sanderson

Tessa Sanderson
Famous As: A six-time Olympian in the javelin from 1976 to 1996
Birthdate: March 14, 1956
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica

 31 Geoff Capes

Geoff Capes
Famous As: Athletics competitor
Birthdate: August 23, 1949
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Holbeach

While he began his career as a Cambridgeshire Constabulary policeman, Geoff Capes ruled the British shot-putting arena in the 1970s. Apart from being a two-time Commonwealth gold medal winner, he has also won the World’s Strongest Man tag twice and been a seven-time AAA Championship winner.

 32 Steve Ovett

Steve Ovett
Famous As: Middle-distance runner, Athletics competitor
Birthdate: October 9, 1955
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brighton

Apart from winning a gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Steve Ovett also set six world records. He once ruled the middle-distance running scene. A talented footballer in his teens, he later chose athletics, since he wanted to pursue a sport that wouldn’t make him dependent on his teammates.

 33 Louis Smith

Louis Smith
Famous As: artistic gymnast
Birthdate: April 22, 1989
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Peterborough

With his 2008 Beijing Olympic bronze medal, Louis Smith became the second Black male gymnast to have won the medal. A pommel horse expert, he later won three more Olympic medals. He had ADHD as a child and later also won a choral scholarship but chose to focus on gymnastics instead.

 34 Fatima Whitbread

Fatima Whitbread
Famous As: Javelin Thrower
Birthdate: March 3, 1961
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Stoke Newington, United Kingdom

Fatima Whitbread is a British former athlete who specialized in the Javelin throw. At the 1986 European Championships, Whitbread broke the world record in the qualifying round before winning the gold medal in the finals. She also has an Olympic silver and an Olympic bronze under her belt. A popular athlete, Whitbread also won the 1987 World Championships in Rome.

 35 Scott Quigg

Scott Quigg
Famous As: Boxer
Birthdate: October 9, 1988
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bury, Greater Manchester, England
Former boxer Scott Quigg stepped into the boxing arena as a child Muay Thai boxer and is known for winning titles such as the WBA (Regular) super-bantamweight title. He quit boxing after losing to Jono Carroll at the Manchester Arena in 2020.

 36 Sam Warburton

Sam Warburton
Famous As: Rugby union player
Birthdate: October 5, 1988
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cardiff

Former Welsh rugby player Sam Warburton became the youngest to captain Wales in the 2011 World Cup. He also created a record for holding the most caps as a Wales captain. He has also won the European Challenge Cup for the Cardiff Blues and the Six Nations Championship for Wales.

 37 Jolyon Palmer

Jolyon Palmer
Famous As: Racecar driver
Birthdate: January 20, 1991
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Horsham

 38 Callum Robinson

Callum Robinson
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: February 2, 1995
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Northampton

Callum Robinson is an Irish football player who plays for the West Bromwich Albion Football Club as well as the Republic of Ireland national football team. On 3 April 2021, he scored twice and helped his team secure a 5–2 win against the popular Chelsea Football Club. Robinson has also represented the England national team at various youth levels.

 39 Christine Ohuruogu

Christine Ohuruogu
Famous As: Writer, Sprinter
Birthdate: May 17, 1984
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London

Christine Ohuruogu is a British athlete who has won an Olympic gold medal, two World Championships, and a Commonwealth gold medal in the 400m event. She also has an Olympic silver medal and a couple of bronze medals under her belt. In 2016, she became the second British track and field athlete to win Olympic medals at three consecutive Games.

 40 Fauja Singh

Fauja Singh
Famous As: Marathon runner, Long-distance runner, Athletics competitor
Birthdate: April 1, 1911
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Jalandhar

Indian Sikh marathon runner Fauja Singh, who later moved to the U.K., made history by becoming the oldest person to complete a marathon, at age 100. His biography, Fauja Singh Keeps Going, became a bestseller. It is believed, the death of his fifth son motivated him to follow his passion.

 41 Ugo Monye

Ugo Monye
Famous As: Rugby union player
Birthdate: April 13, 1983
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Islington

Ugo Monye is an English former rugby union player turned sports pundit. He was a star athlete as a youth and played for Hampshire RFC U17s and U20s. He then joined Harlequins and played 241 times for them. He won both the second division and then the Premiership title with Harlequins. He has also played for England. 

 42 Lester Piggott

Lester Piggott
Famous As: Jockey, Horse trainer
Birthdate: November 5, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wantage

Lester Piggott is an English former jockey. Piggott has 4,493 career wins under his belt and is considered one of the greatest jockeys of all time. In 1999, Piggott was ranked second in the top 50 jockeys of the 20th century list published by the Racing Post. In 2021, Piggott was inducted into the British Champions Series Hall of Fame.

 43 Iwan Thomas

Iwan Thomas
Famous As: Athletics competitor
Birthdate: January 5, 1974
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Farnborough

Winner of the 1997 World Championship and the 1998 European Cup, British sprinter Iwan Thomas is the current UK 400m record holder, having run a time of 44.36s. He has also represented United Kingdom at the 1996 Olympic Games in the 400 metres.  A popular television personality, he makes regular appearances on small screen, mostly as guest, panelist or presenter.

 44 Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea
Famous As: Motorcycle racer
Birthdate: February 2, 1987
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ballymena

Northern Irish motorcycle racer Jonathan Rea began his career with motocross and then switched to circuit racing later. He made history when he became the first racer to win six WorldSBK titles, that too, back-to-back. He earned the second place in the 2017 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award race.

 45 Amy Williams

Amy Williams
Famous As: Skeleton racer
Birthdate: September 29, 1982
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cambridge, England

Amy Williams is a British former skeleton racer who won a silver medal at the 2009 World Championships. In 2010, Amy Williams became the first British person in 30 years to win an individual gold medal at Winter Olympics when she won the medal in the skeleton.

 46 Dwain Chambers

Dwain Chambers
Famous As: Track sprinter
Birthdate: April 5, 1978
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England

Dwain Chambers is a British track sprinter known to be one of the fastest European sprinters in the history of athletics. He is the European record holder for the 60 meters with 6.42 seconds. He has won gold medals at the world and European levels in different tournaments. He faced a doping ban from 2006 to 2012. 

 47 Max Chilton

Max Chilton
Famous As: Formula One driver
Birthdate: April 21, 1991
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Reigate

When British racing driver Max Chilton made his Formula 3 debut at 16, he became the youngest deriver to do so. He now represents the North American racing series IndyCar. While he initially wished to be a farmer, he began his racing career at age 10, racing in karts.

 48 Mary Peters

Mary Peters
Famous As: athletics competitor
Birthdate: July 6, 1939
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Halewood

Mary Peters is a Northern Irish former athlete who specialized in the pentathlon and shot put. She was athletic from a young age and received encouragement from her father to pursue her passion. She represented Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Summer Olympics in 1972 and won the gold medal in the women's pentathlon.  

 49 Dina Asher-Smith

Dina Asher-Smith
Famous As: Sprinter
Birthdate: December 4, 1995
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Orpington ,England

 50 Owen Farrell

Owen Farrell
Famous As: Rugby union player
Birthdate: September 24, 1991
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wigan

Owen Farrell is an English rugby union player who captains the Saracens Football Club as well as the England national team. Having scored 1053 points so far, Farrell is counted among the top points scorers in the history of rugby union tests. Owen Farrell has helped the English team win three Six Nations Championships among other major tournaments.