Lorraine Hanson, Olympic athlete
Lorraine was born in Manchester on 22nd April 1965. She came to Birmingham when about three years old, and lived in Small Heath at first. The family moved to Acocks Green around 1972, and Lorraine attended St Mary's school until the age of eleven. She told us: "It was a very small school, everyone was friendly, and the teachers were great. I remember especially the English teacher, Miss Watkins, and the Head, Mrs Bradshaw. In 1972 they brought a television into the hall for the assembly, and I watched the opening ceremony of the 1972 Olympics. I never dreamed I would be there myself one day".
After St Mary's, Lorraine went on to Yardleys secondary school. It was there that her exceptional talent was spotted by Sparkhill Harriers, and they invited her to join them. "The clubhouse was at Stratford Road, Shirley, and we did most of our training in the car park on the concrete", Lorraine told us. After school, she studied at Hall Green Technical College. Lorraine lived in Acocks Green until 1994.
In 1989 Lorraine moved to Birchfield Harriers. Her first international competition was in 1990 in New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games, where she came sixth in the 400 metres hurdles. Perhaps her greatest achievement was to be a member of the 4x400 metres relay team that ran the fastest ever time for a U.K. Women's team, the third fastest ever for a Commonwealth team, and the fifth fastest ever for a European team. This took place at the World Athletics Championships in Tokyo in August 1991. They came fourth. In 1991 Birchfield Harriers awarded her their principal trophy. Lorraine featured in three of the six fastest runs ever made by U.K. 4x400 metres relay teams.
Next year at the Barcelona Olympics, the team won the Bronze Medal in a slower time, but Lorraine could not run in the relay because of knee problems. Despite her injuries she competed and came fifth in her 400 metres quarter final race. In 1993 and 1994 she underwent knee surgery.
Lorraine has achieved a great deal as a 400 metres solo runner and a 400 metres hurdler as well. Her fastest 400 metres time is 50.93 seconds, also in Tokyo in 1991 in the semi-final, where she came fifth. That run put her in the top 150 of all time, worldwide. She is the eighth fastest 400 metres U.K. runner ever, and the seventeenth fastest U.K. 400 metres hurdler. In addition she is the seventh fastest U.K. 150 metres runner with a time of 17.78 seconds.
Lorraine finally retired from competition in 1999. "I don't miss training five days a week in all weathers. But I do miss the races. Getting out onto the track, with the crowds cheering you on, you really want to do your best. It is an overwhelming experience, especially running in the Olympics".
Other achievements are:
AAA Championships (Women)
400 metres hurdles: 3rd in 1987 (59.41), 2nd in 1989 (56.70)
400 metres flat: 2nd in 1991 (51.88), 2nd in 1995 (52.63), 1st in 1997 (53.45)
400 metres hurdles: 2nd in 1989 (57.94)
400 metres flat: 2nd in 1992 (53.41), 3rd in 1997 (53.73)
Midland Counties Championships
400 metres hurdles: winner in 1984 (63.6), 1985 (62.6), 1987 (59.8)
400 metres flat: winner in 1989 (53.89), 1990 (52.78), 1995 (54.19), 1996 (53.48)
CAU (Inter-Counties) Championships
400 metres flat: winner in 1997 (53.97), 1998 (54.06)