Jonathan Edwards (athlete)

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Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards olympics 2000.jpg
Jonathan Edwards at the 2000 Olympics
Born
Jonathan David Edwards

(1966-05-10) 10 May 1966 (age 53)
ResidenceGosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
NationalityBritish
EducationDegree in Physics
Alma materVan Mildert College, Durham University
Known forWorld record holding athlete, Olympic Gold medalist & television work
Height183 cm
Weight72 kg
TitleCBE
Board member ofLondon Organising Committee for the Olympic Games
Spouse(s)Alison
ChildrenNathan and Sam
Jonathan Edwards
Medal record
Representing  England and  Great Britain
Men’s athletics
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 2000 Sydney Triple jump
Silver medal – second place 1996 Atlanta Triple jump
Commonwealth Games
Gold medal – first place 2002 Manchester Triple jump
Silver medal – second place 1990 Auckland Triple jump
Silver medal – second place 1994 Victoria Triple jump
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1995 Gothenburg Triple jump
Gold medal – first place 2001 Edmonton Triple jump
Silver medal – second place 1997 Athens Triple jump
Bronze medal – third place 1993 Stuttgart Triple jump
Bronze medal – third place 1999 Seville Triple jump
World Indoor Championships
Silver medal – second place 2001 Lisbon Triple jump
European Championships
Gold medal – first place 1998 Budapest Triple jump
Bronze medal – third place 2002 Munich Triple jump
European Cup
Gold medal – first place 1995 Villeneuve d'Ascq Triple jump
Gold medal – first place 1996 Madrid Triple jump
Gold medal – first place 1997 Munich Triple jump
Gold medal – first place 1998 Saint Petersburg Triple jump
Gold medal – first place 2001 Bremen Triple jump
Gold medal – first place 2002 Annecy Triple jump
Silver medal – second place 1999 Paris Triple jump
European Indoor Championships
Gold medal – first place 1998 Valencia Triple jump

Jonathan David Edwards, CBE, (born 10 May 1966 in London) is a former British triple jumper. He is a former Olympic, Commonwealth, European and World champion. He has held the world record in the event since 1995.

After his retirement as an athlete, Edwards has worked as an athletics commentator and presenter for BBC television. He was a devout Christian. He presented episodes of the BBC Christian worship programme Songs of Praise. He lost faith in 2007. He was a member of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games in 2012. He is President of the Wenlock Olympian Society.

Education[change | change source]

Edwards attended West Buckland School[1] where his ability in the triple jump was seen at an early age. He was a strong all-rounder and on leaving received the school's top award for sporting and academic excellence, the Fortescue Medal. Other students with Edwards at West Buckland School included Victor Ubogu and Steve Ojomoh. Both are former Bath and England Rugby international players. Edwards now has a Sports Hall at West Buckland named after him; The Jonathan Edwards Sports Centre. Edwards then read Physics at Durham University, attending Van Mildert College.

Athletics career[change | change source]

Because of his strong Christian beliefs, he refused to compete on Sundays at first.[2] Eventually he decided to do so in 1993. This decision proved important, since the qualifying round at that year's World Championships took place on a Sunday. He went on to win the bronze medal.

In his breakthrough year of 1995, he produced a jump of 18.43 m (60 feet 5½ inches) at the European Cup. The leap was wind assisted and did not count for record purposes. But it was a sign of things to come as he capped an unbeaten year. He had a historic gold medal performance at the World Championships. There he broke the world record twice in the same meet. On his first jump, he became the first man to legally pass the 18-metre barrier (18.16 m/59 feet 7 inches). That record lasted for about 20 minutes. His second jump of 18.29 m made him the first to jump 60 feet. During his commentary for the 2008 Summer Olympics, Edwards said that during the 1995 World Championships, he felt as if "he could jump as far as he needed to". Later the same year Edwards became the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

During 1996 Edwards went into the Olympic games as favourite and world record holder. But it was American Kenny Harrison who took the gold with a jump of 18.09 m. Edwards walked away with the silver after a leap of 17.88 m (the longest ever jump not to win gold). Edwards won the gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. He was awarded the CBE shortly afterwards. He also won golds at the 2001 World Championships and 2002 Commonwealth Games. At one point in 2002, Edwards held all the gold medals for the "four majors" (Olympic Games, World Championships, Commonwealth Games & European Championships). He retired after the 2003 World Championships as Great Britain's most successful medal winning athlete.

Post-athletics career[change | change source]

Following his retirement, Edwards pursued a media career as a television presenter. He worked mainly for the BBC as a sports commentator and on programmes such as Songs of Praise. He gave up this programme, due to his loss of faith, in February 2007.[3]

In 2004 Edwards joined with Paula Radcliffe on an Olympic Special Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. The pair raised £64,000 for charity with half of that sum going to the British Olympic Association and a quarter of the sum going to Asthma UK.[4]

He was a member of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. He represented athletes in the organisation of the 2012 Summer Olympics.[5] He is President of the Wenlock Olympian Soceity.

Personal bests[change | change source]

  • Triple Jump - 18.29 (WR), 18.43 m W +2.4 (not ratified due to excessive wind conditions)
  • 100 m - 10.48
  • Long jump - 7.41 m

Awards[change | change source]

An honorary doctorate was conferred upon him at a ceremony at the University of Exeter on 21 January 2006.[6]

Later in the same year, an honorary doctorate of the university (DUniv) was conferred upon him at the winter graduation ceremony of the University of Ulster (19 December 2006).[7]

Personal life[change | change source]

Edwards lives with his wife Alison in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne. He has two sons, Nathan and Sam.

Religious beliefs[change | change source]

He initially refused to compete on Sundays due to his devout Christian beliefs. This decision cost him a chance to compete in the 1991 World Championships. However, in 1993, after much thinking and discussion with his father (a vicar), he changed his mind. He decided that God gave him his talent in order for him to compete in athletics.

On 2 February 2007 it was widely reported that Edwards had lost his faith in God despite him once saying "My relationship with Jesus and God is fundamental to everything I do. I have made a commitment and dedication in that relationship to serve God in every area of my life."[3]

The Daily Mail described Edwards as a "man deeply troubled by the collapse of his Christian faith". It also revealed that a friend said "[Edwards] has a deep, theological comprehension of the Bible, making his spiritual meltdown even more unlikely ... They still go to church as a family"[8][9] The Daily Mail article also quoted Edwards as saying that he is going through a difficult period in his life. A period that is deeply personal to him and his family such that he does not wish to comment on.[8]

Edwards presented episodes of the Christian praise show Songs of Praise until 2007.

In an interview in The Times on 27 June 2007,[10] Edwards said: "If there is no God, does that mean that life has no purpose? Does it mean that personal existence ends at death? They are thoughts that do my head in. One thing that I can say, however, is that even if I am unable to discover some fundamental purpose to life, this will not give me a reason to return to Christianity. Just because something is unpalatable does not mean that it is not true." Furthermore, in the interview with The Times he also stated "When you think about it rationally, it does seem incredibly improbable that there is a God." In the same interview he also said "I feel internally happier than at any time of my life." Edwards confirmed his rejection of Christianity in an interview on BBC Five Live Sportsweek on 29 July 2007.[11]

References[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]


Records
Preceded by
United States Willie Banks
Men's Triple Jump World Record Holder
8 July 1995 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
United Kingdom Damon Hill
BBC Sports Personality of the Year
1995
Succeeded by
United Kingdom Damon Hill
Preceded by
United Kingdom Colin Jackson
Men's European Athlete of the Year
1995
Succeeded by
Czech Republic Jan Železný
Preceded by
Denmark Wilson Kipketer
Men's European Athlete of the Year
1998
Succeeded by
Czech Republic Tomáš Dvořák
Preceded by
Brazil Romario
L'Équipe's International Champion of Champions
1995
Succeeded by
United States Michael Johnson
Preceded by
Norway Johan Olav Koss
United Press International
Athlete of the Year

1995
Succeeded by
none