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Around The Uk

Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 01:41 GMT 02:41 UK
Rider's legends: Ann Packer
Ann Packer and Robbie Brightwell
Ann Packer arrives home in triumph with fiance Robbie Brightwell
Steve Rider
BBC Olympics presenter Steve Rider highlights some of the great Olympians from the pages of history.

The 1964 Olympics in Tokyo was highly successful for British athletes who took home four track and field gold medals supported by a sizable quantity of silver and bronze.

The big gold-winning surprise was Ann Packer in the 800m as she was a virtual novice in the event.

Packer, a schoolteacher, was a 400m runner but by a quirk of fate ran the longer distance as well in Japan.

She had been doing 800m runs to improve her stamina leading up to the Games and ended up taking the vacant third spot in the team at the last minute.

Lucky

"I only took it because the 400m would be over before the 800m heats started," she said.

"It was very lucky because if the 400m had come in between I would not have done it."

Ann Packer and Robbie Brightwell
Tokyo's golden couple
Packer took silver in the 400m behind the Australian Elizabeth Cuthbert and then went one better in the 800m.

Her room-mate Mary Rand had already taken gold in the long jump, which had boosted her spirits, but she was the first to admit her lack of experience.

Naive

"I was quite ignorant of women's 800 metre running," she said.

"Middle distance running for women was still in its infancy and the 800m had only been run in Rome four years earlier for the first time.

"I knew nothing about it but being so naive was probably to my advantage. Ignorance was bliss."

Packer seemed to have left herself too much to do coming round the final bend but it was at that point she felt she had the race won.

"Then, the 800m was mainly a stamina event but being a sprinter gave me that extra dimension," she said.

"When we were 100m from home I still felt pretty good and the other girls seemed to be coming back to me. I realised then that the other girls did not have the kick."


Being so naive was probably to my advantage. Ignorance was bliss
  Ann Packer
Packer passed the field one by one in the home straight and finished with five yards to spare.

She dedicated her win to her fiance Robbie Brightwell, who had finished a disappointing fourth in the men's 400m, although went home with a silver from the relay.

The couple later married and 26 years on are still planning a first return to Tokyo.

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See also:

17 Sep 00 |  BBC Team
Rider's legends: Anita Lonsbrough
18 Sep 00 |  BBC Team
Rider's legends: Sean Kerly
19 Sep 00 |  Fans Guide
Rider's legends: Lasse Viren
20 Sep 00 |  Fans Guide
Rider's legends: Chris Finnegan
21 Sep 00 |  BBC Team
Rider's legends: Mark Spitz
22 Sep 00 |  Fans Guide
Rider's legends: Adrian Moorhouse
23 Sep 00 |  BBC Team
Rider's legends: Nadia Comaneci
25 Sep 00 |  Fans Guide
Rider's legends: Fanny Blankers-Koen
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