Olympic Stories

Kelly Sotherton - Heptathalon

Kelly Sotherton - Heptathalon

Born November 13, 1976 in Newport, Isle of Wight, Great Britain, Kelly Jade Sotherton is an English sprinter and heptathlete who will be competing for Team GB in the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. A medal-winning Olympian already, Sotherton knows exactly what it takes to compete on the world’s biggest stage, and she hopes to best the competition this summer to bring home the gold.

At 35 years of age, Kelly will be one of the oldest heptathletes competing this year, but her age doesn’t make her any less dangerous. Although she retired in 2010 due to back and foot injuries, she decided to come back in 2011, showing a side of herself that few had seen before. Her former weakest discipline, the javelin throw, was looking much improved recently. The field is tough, but Sotherton plans to make her last hoorah well worth the effort.

Sporting Career

Kelly Sotherton’s sporting career could read like an encyclopedia. She has been at it for decades. Starting with her most famous exploits in the world of the heptathlon, Sotherton burst onto the scene in 2004, gaining worldwide recognition when she won a surprising third place finish (bronze medal) in the Summer Olympics. However, her recognition was ironic. She wasn’t heralded as the next big star; instead, she was being criticized for resting on her laurels. She could have won the Silver, but instead took it easy in the last event – the 800m.

Proving that 2004 wasn’t a fluke event, Sotherton took silver at the European Indoor Championships – a very impressive feat considering the strength of the field at that time. That same year, Kelly won the long jump at the AAA National Championship; and at the 2005 World Championships, she was in perfect position for at least the silver, but a horrible javelin throw spoiled her chances.

Scoring 6396 at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Sotherton took home the gold, beating out her teammate (current and former) Jessica Ennis, and also Australia’s very talented Kylie Wheeler. But in August of that same year, a horrific—by heptathlete standards—javelin throw would cost her another shot at gold at the European Athletics Championships. She finished in 7th place after having a medal secured.

The next few years for Kelly would be the same roller coaster ride. She was up and down in many events, with the javelin knocking her out of contention in some, and a bad disc in her back knocking her out of others. Finally, in 2010, back problems and foot problems ended her career – or so it would seem. More determined than ever, Sotherton fought through the pain of her back and foot injuries and reentered the world of the heptathlon, still impressive enough to make Team GB for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Career Highlights

  • 1997 Island Games – Gold (3)
  • 2004 Olympic Games – Bronze
  • 2005 European Indoor Championships – Silver
  • 2006 Commonwealth Games – Gold
  • 2007 World Championships – Bronze
  • 2007 European Indoor Championships – Silver
  • 2008 World Indoor Championships – Silver
  • 2011 European Indoor Championships – Silver

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