Kelly Sotherton

Kelly Jade Sotherton (born 13 November 1976) is an English former heptathlete. In the heptathlon she was the bronze medallist at the 2004 Summer Olympics and, following the disqualification of two other athletes, also at the 2008 Summer Olympics, as well as being part of the bronze medal winning team in the Women's 4x400m relay at the 2008 Summer Olympics (again, initially finishing 5th but upgraded after various subsequent doping disqualifications). As such she is one of only five women to win multiple medals in Olympic heptathlon.

She also won a bronze at the 2007 World Championships in Athletics, and was the heptathlon gold medallist at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. In November 2010, she announced her decision to retire from the heptathlon, due to foot and back injuries. After considering switching to cycling,[1] she then chose instead to focus on the 400 m.[2] Sotherton's funding from UK Athletics was cut in 2011, but she returned to heptathlon training.[3]

Kelly Sotherton
Kelly Sotherton 2
Personal information
Full nameKelly Jade Sotherton
Born13 November 1976 (age 42)
Newport, Isle of Wight
Height181 cm (5 ft 11¼ in)
CountryUnited Kingdom Great Britain
Long Jump
Achievements and titles
World finals3rd (2007)
Regional finals7th (2006)
Olympic finals3rd (2004)

Early life and education

Sotherton was born in Newport, Isle of Wight on 13 November 1976. She began her athletics career in the sports day at Caversham House Primary School in Ryde, Isle of Wight. She was subsequently educated at Bishop Lovett Middle School, Ryde High School and Brunel University.


As a teenager, Sotherton played netball for the Isle of Wight, and won two English Schools’ championships in the heptathlon. She moved to the Midlands in 1998, to become a member of Birchfield Harriers athletics club. She made her senior British team debut in 2002.


She gained international recognition in 2004 when she unexpectedly won a bronze medal at the Summer Olympics in Athens behind Carolina Klüft (gold) and Austra Skujytė (silver), scoring 6424 points and finishing ahead of defending Olympic champion Lewis, who dropped out due to injury.

She was famously criticised for settling for the bronze medal instead of chasing the silver in the final event, the 800m, by her coach Charles van Commenee.


In March 2005 she competed in the European Indoor Championships, where she took silver once again behind Klüft. At Götzis, Austria in May Sotherton was again beaten into second, behind the Swede, but she did record a personal best of 6547 points. At the AAA's National Championship in July, Sotherton competed in four individual events and took her first senior national title, winning the long jump with a jump of 6.48 metres.

At the 2005 World Championships Sotherton had held a medal position going into the sixth event, despite some below average performances, but a disastrous javelin saw her drop out of contention. Sotherton did manage to knock nearly 2.5 seconds off her personal best to win the final 800 m, but despite closing the overall gap on those ahead she only finished fifth.


In March 2006 Sotherton competed for England in the heptathlon at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. She took gold with a score of 6396, ahead of Kylie Wheeler of Australia (silver) and her team mate Jessica Ennis (bronze). In August 2006 she competed for Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the heptathlon at the 2006 European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg. She came seventh ahead of her team mate Jessica Ennis, after a disappointing javelin event caused her to drop from second.


Kelly Sotherton
Kelly Sotherton at an athletics meeting in The Netherlands, 2007

2007 saw Great Britain host the European Indoor Championships, in Birmingham. Klüft led after the hurdles, but Sotherton and compatriot Jessica Ennis trailed closely behind. The high jump saw Ennis take the lead over Klüft and Sotherton, with a jump of 1.91, but Sotherton set a personal best for indoors of 1.88. Seven points separated Klüft and Sotherton. In the shot put, Sotherton took a two-point lead ahead of defending champion Klüft. The long jump saw Klüft take a 24-point lead over the Briton. In the 800 m, a strong event for Sotherton, she needed to take 1.6 seconds from Klüft to see her beaten for the first time since 2002. Sotherton set a personal best 2:12.54, but Klüft also underscored her previous mark to win by 17 points. This was her smallest winning margin ever. Sotherton took silver, and Karin Ruckstuhl the bronze. In one of the best pentathlons of all time, many athletes set national records and Klüft and Sotherton rose to second and fourth on the all-time lists respectively. Sotherton also set a Commonwealth record by 200 points.

In 2007, the World Championships were held in the Japanese city of Osaka. Sotherton started the first day with a personal best of 13.21 seconds in the 100 metres hurdles. She then came within a centimetre of her personal best in the high jump with a 1.86 m performance. A season's best of 14.14 m followed in the shot put and Sotherton ended the day with a second personal best in the 200 m, with 23.40. On the second day, Sotherton hit 6.68 m in the long jump, to stay in medal contention, but again the javelin saw a weak performance, with Sotherton throwing just 31.90, finishing last. However, Sotherton put in a strong performance in the 800 m, running 2:11.58 to just beat teammate Jessica Ennis to the bronze medal, with 6,510 points.

Event Result Position Points Overall Position Extra
100 metres hurdles 13.21 secs (PB) 3rd (PB) 1093 3rd Jessica Ennis wins (12.97, PB); Carolina Klüft 2nd (13.15, PB) (both ran in her heat)
High Jump 1.86 m 4th 1054 4th Carolina Klüft wins (1.95 m, PB); Jessica Ennis is 3rd (1.89 m)
Shot put 14.14m (SB) 9th 803 3rd
200 metres 23.40 secs (PB) 3rd 1039 3rd Jessica Ennis wins (23.15, PB); Klüft 2nd (23.38, SB) (both ran in her heat)
Long jump 6.68m (PB) 3rd 1066 3rd Lyudmila Blonska wins (6.88m, PB); Klüft 2nd (6.85m, SB)
Javelin 31.90m (SB) 32nd 513 4th Lilli Schwarzkopf wins (54.44m, PB); Klüft 7th (47.98m, SB)
800 metres 2:11.58 3rd 942 3rd Sotherton lead for most of the way, but Jessica Ennis proved stronger to win the race in 2:11.39.
Heptathlon 6510 3rd Klüft set a European Record of 7,032 to win from Blonska, while Ennis finished fourth.


In February 2008, Sotherton competed in a three-event triathlon, at the Indoor Grand Prix, in Birmingham, against a field including Carolina Klüft. Sotherton started with a below-par performance in the long jump, allowing Klüft to take the lead. Sotherton then won the 60 m hurdles in a personal best of 8.17 seconds. Despite running a personal best (and the fastest time by a Briton that season) of 52.47 seconds in the 400m, Sotherton took second behind Klüft, who won by 18 points.

After Klüft pulled out of the World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Sotherton became favourite for the gold medal. She lived up to expectation in the 60 m hurdles, winning in 8.25 seconds. However, Sotherton put in a below-par performance in the high jump, achieving only 1.81 m, against Tia Hellebaut's 1.99 m., and Sotherton slipped to third and then to fifth after the shot put. Sotherton then won the long jump with 6.45 m, moving into second, behind Hellebaut, who set a Belgian record of 6.41 m. Hellebaut held a considerable lead entering the final event, the 800 m. Sotherton needed to beat the Belgian by 7.7 seconds to win gold. Sotherton set a personal best of 2:09.95, with Hellebaut collapsing over the line in 2:16.42, 6.47 seconds behind Sotherton, and the Briton had to again settle for silver.

After Klüft's retirement from heptathlon in 2008, Sotherton had been tipped by many people to take gold at the 2008 Olympics, including Klüft herself. However, after a disappointing performance she could only manage 5th place in the competition. Lyudmila Blonska was later disqualified for failing a doping test and Sotherton was upgraded to fourth.[4] She had previously labelled Blonska a cheat, and questioned the validity of Blonska's silver medal at the World Championships in 2007.[5] In December 2017 Tatyana Chernova was disqualified from 3rd place in the competition for doping, promoting Sotherton to the bronze medal.[6] She was also part of the 4 × 400 m relay team which finished fifth in the final although the team was later upgraded to bronze medal position following disqualification for doping offences of the teams finishing in third and fourth place.[7]

Sotherton received her bronze medal from the 4x400 metre relay at the London Anniversary Games on 21st July 2018 along with her team mates.[8] She then received her second bronze medal from the Heptathlon two months later on 13 September at the Team GB ball in London.[9]

The following year, Sotherton struggled with injuries and although she was selected for the 2009 European Indoor Championships she had to withdraw due to heel problems.[10] Despite recovering from this injury, her 2010 season was also ruined by injury as her back problems recurred.[11]


Sotherton completed "the first step of her reinvention as a 400m specialist", with a victory in the 400m final in 53.46 sec, at the English Institute of Sport - Sheffield indoor arena on 13 February 2011. Overcome at her win, she explained a temporary breakdown at trackside; " When I prolapsed the disc in my back it was career-threatening. I had to make a decision whether to end my career or try something new." It was Sotherton's first national title in a track event.[12]


On Sunday 27 May 2012, Sotherton announced her retirement from the sport after failing to recover from back surgery in time for the London 2012 games.[13]


Since retiring in 2012, Sotherton has been on UKsport international leaderships programme and ACGP (corporate governance practitioner). She appears in the media, commentating and guesting on various productions including those by Talksport and FiveLive, and undertakes public speaking engagements. She coaches and mentors in Athletics, and is part of the Sports People's Think Tank alongside footballer Jason Roberts.

She participated in the 2013 London Marathon in aid of AgeUK, the Deloitte Ride Across Britain from Lands End to John O'Groats, the Prudential London Triathlon, and a marathon row for cancer research.

Personal bests

Kelly Sotherton 1
Event Data
100 m 11.85 secs
200 m 23.39 secs
400 m 52.19 secs
800 m 2mins 07.34 secs
100 m hurdles 13.18 secs
High jump (indoor) 1.88 m
Long jump 6.79 m
Shot put 14.66 m
Javelin 40.81 m
Pentathlon (indoor) 4927 points
Heptathlon 6547 points

International competitions

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing Isle of WightIsle of Wight
1997 Island Games Jersey, Channel Islands[14] 1st 100 m GR (12.02 seconds)
100 m hurdles GR (14.39 seconds)
Long jump GR (5.84 m)
High Jump 1.70 m
4x100m relay 49.24 sec
4x400m relay 4 min 3.46 sec
1999 Island Games Gotland, Sweden[15] 1st 100 m 12.45 seconds
Long jump 5.76 m
2nd 200 m 26.07 seconds
3rd 4x100m relay 50.27 sec
4x400m relay 4 min 6.44 sec
Representing  Great Britain or  England
1997 European U23 Championships Turku, Finland 10th Heptathlon 5585 pts
2002 Commonwealth Games Manchester, England 7th Heptathlon 5728 pts
2004 European Indoor Cup Leipzig, Germany 4th Long jump 6.38 m
European Cup Bydgoszcz, Poland 2nd Long jump 6.68 m
Summer Olympics Athens, Greece 3rd Heptathlon 6424 pts
2005 European Indoor Championship Madrid, Spain 2nd Pentathlon 4733 pts
World Championships Helsinki, Finland 7th Long jump 6.42 m w
5th Heptathlon 6325 pts
2006 Commonwealth Games Melbourne, Australia 1st Heptathlon 6396 pts
European Cup Málaga, Spain 4th Long jump 6.50 m
European Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 7th Heptathlon 6290 pts
15th (qualifiers) Long jump 6.40 m
World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 7th Long jump 5.85 m
2007 European Indoor Championships Birmingham, United Kingdom 2nd Pentathlon 4927 pts
World Championships Osaka, Japan 3rd Heptathlon 6510 pts
2008 World Indoor Championships Valencia, Spain 2nd Pentathlon 4852 pts
Summer Olympics Beijing, China 3rd Heptathlon 6517 pts
3rd 4×400 m relay 3:22.68


  1. ^ MacMichael, Simon (5 February 2011). "Former heptathlete Kelly Sotherton considered switch to cycling for London 2012".
  2. ^ Slater, Matt (1 November 2010). "Sotherton eyes 400m after injuries end heptathlon hopes". BBC Sport.
  3. ^ McRae, Donald (14 November 2011). "Kelly Sotherton: I don't want to get to 60 and think 'if only'". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2011. [...] having just lost all her funding from UK Athletics [...] [The doctor] said: 'Your back is still improving so maybe you can give heptathlon a go.'
  4. ^ "Blonska stripped of silver medal". BBC Sport. 22 August 2008.
  5. ^ "The Times & The Sunday Times".
  6. ^ Davis, Matt (6 December 2017). "Kelly Sotherton: I want my Olympic stadium moment to receive 2008 medal". BBC Sport.
  7. ^ O'Callaghan, Rory (25 November 2016). "Great Britain's women's 4x400 metres relay team to receive 2008 Olympic bronze". Sky Sports.
  8. ^ "Great Britain's 2008 4x400m women's relay team to get Olympic bronzes on Saturday". BBC Sport. 19 July 2018. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Kelly Sotherton says receiving Beijing Olympic medal will put pain to rest". BBC Sport. 13 September 2018. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  10. ^ "British trio will miss Europeans". BBC Sport. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2009.
  11. ^ "Injury wrecks heptathlete Kelly Sotherton's season". BBC Sport. 21 May 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  12. ^ The Independent, 14 February 2011
  13. ^ "London 2012: Heptathlete Kelly Sotherton retires with back injury". BBC Sport. 27 May 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  14. ^ "NatWest Island Games Records 2005" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 September 2006. Retrieved 31 August 2006.
  15. ^ "VIII NatWest Island Games 1999" (PDF). Open Sports. 29 December 1999.

External links

2005 European Athletics Indoor Championships – Women's pentathlon

The Women's pentathlon event at the 2005 European Athletics Indoor Championships was held on March 4.

2005 World Championships in Athletics – Women's long jump

The Women's Long Jump event at the 2005 World Championships in Athletics was held at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium on August 9 and August 10.

2006 European Athletics Championships – Women's heptathlon

The women's heptathlon at the 2006 European Athletics Championships were held at the Ullevi on August 7 and August 8.

Biggest drama occurred on the first day as Eunice Barber, who was leading after high jump, had to stop because of injury. After that no one could challenge Klüft, who took first gold medal for hosts. Battle for silver was exciting to the end. Schwarzkopf was better than Ruckstuhl in 800 metres, but not enough.

2007 European Athletics Indoor Championships – Women's pentathlon

The Women's pentathlon event at the 2007 European Athletics Indoor Championships was held on March 2.

2007 World Championships in Athletics – Women's heptathlon

The Women's Heptathlon event at the 2007 World Championships in Athletics took place on August 25 and August 26, 2007 at the Nagai Stadium in Osaka, Japan.

2009 World Championships in Athletics – Women's heptathlon

The Women's Heptathlon at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics was held at the Olympic Stadium on August 16 and August 17. A number of high-profile heptathletes did not feature at the competition, including defending champion Carolina Klüft and 2007 bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton, who were both injured, and Olympic silver medallist Hyleas Fountain, who failed to qualify at the national championships.

Nataliya Dobrynska, the 2008 Olympic champion, was highly favoured to win the event, while Great Britain's Jessica Ennis was predicted to improve upon her own world leading mark of 6587 points. Tatyana Chernova, Ukrainians Hanna Melnychenko and Lyudmyla Yosypenko, and Germans Jennifer Oeser and Lilli Schwarzkopf were cited as medal contenders.After the first day, Ennis had built up a considerable lead, winning three of the four events and ending the day more than three hundred points ahead of second-ranked Dobrynska. Ennis' first day total of 4124 points was the third highest ever first day score in the heptathlon, behind Kluft and world record holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee. On the second day, unusually for a heptathlon competition, Linda Züblin set a Swiss record in the javelin throw. Ennis maintained her lead with competitive marks in the long jump and javelin throw (her weaker events) and she won the final 800 metres race, gaining her first major championship gold medal and setting a world leading mark and much improved personal best of 6731 points. Olympic champion Dobrynska faded into fourth place on the final day, while Jennifer Oeser set a personal best for the silver medal and Kamila Chudzik took bronze, Poland's first ever heptathlon medal at the competition.The competition represented a breakthrough for Ennis, who had missed the 2008 Beijing Olympics through injury and whose previous best result was fourth place at the 2007 World Championships. She was Great Britain's first gold medallist of the tournament, and she became the country's third woman multi-eventer to win a major championship, after former Olympic champions Mary Peters and Denise Lewis.

Athletics at the 2002 Commonwealth Games – Women's heptathlon

The women's heptathlon event at the 2002 Commonwealth Games was held on 26–27 July.

Athletics at the 2004 Summer Olympics – Women's heptathlon

The women's heptathlon competition at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens was held at the Olympic Stadium on 20–21 August.

Athletics at the 2006 Commonwealth Games – Women's heptathlon

The women's heptathlon event at the 2006 Commonwealth Games was held on March 21–22.

Athletics at the 2008 Summer Olympics

Athletics at the 2008 Summer Olympics were held during the last ten days of the games, from August 15 to August 24, 2008, at the Beijing National Stadium. The Olympic sport of athletics is split into four distinct sets of events: track and field events, road running events, and racewalking events.

Both men and women had very similar schedules of events. Men competed in 24 events and women in 23, as their schedule lacked the 50 km race walk. In addition, both the men's 110 m hurdles and decathlon are reflected in the women's schedule by the 100 m hurdles and heptathlon, respectively.

The Olympic record was broken in 17 returning events. In five events, including the inaugural women's 3000 m steeplechase, the world record was broken.

The athletics was, alongside the Olympic cycling events, one of the few large sports programmes in which the host nation fared comparatively poorly in terms of medals won. Despite a haul of 100 medals at the games as a whole, Chinese athletes took home two bronze medals from the athletics events. The country's foremost athlete Liu Xiang, the 2004 Olympic champion in the 110 metres hurdles, had to withdraw after a false start due to injury.

In the years following the events, results were significantly affected by doping findings; 19 of the 47 events have had amendments to their medal rankings as a result of testing and retesting of samples taken at or before the Games. Multiple medalists have been sanctioned for doping violations. Russia has had the most medals stripped (9).

Athletics at the 2008 Summer Olympics – Women's 4 × 400 metres relay

The women's 4 × 400 metres relay event at the 2008 Olympic Games took place on 22 and 23 August at the Beijing Olympic Stadium.There were only 16 NOCs competing at this event. These 16 NOCs were selected by the average of the two best marks at the qualifying period.

In 2016, it was announced that a reanalysis of samples from the 2008 Summer Olympics resulted in a doping violation by Tatyana Firova; accordingly, the Russian team was disqualified, and fourth placed Belarus was also disqualified due to a doping violation by anchor runner Sviatlana Vusovich. As a result, the Great Britain quartet were elevated from 5th place to the bronze medal.

Athletics at the 2008 Summer Olympics – Women's heptathlon

The women's heptathlon at the 2008 Summer Olympics took place between August 15 and 16 at the Beijing National Stadium.The qualifying standards were 6,000 points (A standard) and 5,800 points (B standard).

Charles van Commenee

Charles van Commenee, written in Dutch as van Commenée, (born June 22, 1958) is a Dutch athletics coach. He began his professional career as a technical director with the Dutch athletics federation before moving to take up a similar role for the British athletics team in 2001. After a term as Performance Director for the Dutch Olympic Committee, he served as Head Coach of British Athletics from 2008 to 2012. Additionally, he has personally coached athletes to international medals, including Denise Lewis, Kelly Sotherton and Huang Zhihong.

Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the 2007 World Championships in Athletics

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland competed under the shortened name of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the 2007 World Championships in Athletics.

Heading into the championships, UK Athletics set a target of three medals and fourteen top eight-placed athletes. Six medals were won and there were thirteen top eight finishes.

Great Britain at the 2006 European Athletics Championships

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland competed under the shortened name Great Britain and Northern Ireland, at the 2006 European Athletics Championships held in Sweden.

Great Britain at the 2008 Summer Olympics

Great Britain, represented by the British Olympic Association (BOA), competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. The United Kingdom was represented by the British Olympic Association (BOA), and the team of selected athletes was officially known as Team GB. Britain is one of only five NOCs to have competed in every modern Summer Olympic Games since 1896. The delegation of 547 people included 311 competitors – 168 men, 143 women – and 236 officials. The team was made up of athletes from the whole United Kingdom including Northern Ireland (whose people may elect to hold Irish citizenship and are able to be selected to represent either Great Britain or Ireland at the Olympics). Additionally some British overseas territories compete separately from Britain in Olympic competition.

Great Britain's medal performance at the 2008 Summer Olympics was its best in a century; only its performance at the 1908 Summer Olympics, which Britain hosted in London, resulted in more gold medals being awarded. The total medal count, 47, is also the fourth highest Great Britain has ever achieved, with only the 1908, 2012 and 2016 Games resulting in more medals. Following retests of doping samples in 2016 in connection with the Russian doping scandal, 4 further medals, all bronze, are expected to be awarded in athletics, retrospectively bringing the total gained to 51. As of the 26th July 2018, the award of the bronze medals to the Men's and Women's 4 x 400 metres relay teams and the upgrade of Goldie Sayers to bronze in the Women's Javelin, confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), brought the official medal total to 50, after which the confirmation of Kelly Sotherton receiving her reallocated bronze medal in the Women's Heptathlon took the total number of medals won to 51.

Great Britain finished 4th overall in the medal tables, a target previously set by UK Sport, the public body responsible for distributing funding to elite sport, for the 2012 Games. UK Sport considered whether to target 3rd place in the 2012 Games, which was hosted by the United Kingdom in London.Cyclist Chris Hoy became the first British athlete in 100 years to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games.

Because London was to be host city of the 2012 Summer Olympics, a British segment was performed during the closing ceremony.

IAAF Combined Events Challenge

The IAAF Combined Events Challenge is an athletics contest organised by the International Association of Athletics Federations (since 1998) for combined events, the heptathlon for women, and the decathlon for men. The winners are decided by totalling the number of points that the athletes have scored in each of three combined events competitions during the season. Points scored are determined by the IAAF combined events scoring tables.

The total prize money available is US$202,000, split evenly between male and female athletes. The male and female winners each receive $30,000, while second and third placed athletes are entitled to $20,000 and $15,000 respectively. Smaller prizes are given to the rest of the top eight finishers.

Women's pentathlon

The pentathlon or women's pentathlon is a combined track and field event in which each woman competes in five separate events over one day (formerly two days). The distance or time for each event is converted to points via scoring tables, with the overall ranking determined by total points. Since 1949 the events have been sprint hurdling, high jump, shot put, long jump, and a flat race. The sprint hurdles distance was 80 m outdoors until 1969 and thereafter 100 m; in indoor pentathlon the distance is 60 m. The flat race was 200 m until 1976 and thereafter 800 m. In elite-level outdoor competition, the pentathlon was superseded in 1981 by the heptathlon, which has seven events, with both 200 m and 800 m, as well as the javelin throw. Pentathlon is still contested at school and masters level and indoors.


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