Dame Mary Peters
by Radiyah Shakur
Born in Liverpool, Mary Peters moved at age 11 with her parents to Northern Ireland, which she regards as home. Through much hard work, training and determination, Peters won a gold medal and world record in the pentathlon at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
Preceding her career victory she competed internationally in pentathlon and the shot: coming fourth in the Olympics in 1964; second in shot at the Commonwealth Games in 1966; and first in the Commonwealth pentathlon in 1970 and 1974.
Since retiring from track and field, Mary Peters has dedicated herself and her time to serving various organisations, including national and community sport; charitable and community causes; and broadcasting and the press. She set up a fund in Northern Ireland to resurface the Belfast cinder Track, since renamed the Mary Peters Track.
Peters has continued to serve Northern Ireland and British athletics. She’s been the team manager for the British women’s team at the Moscow and Los Angeles Games, has served as President, Chairperson or member, of many sports associations including the Northern Ireland Paraplegic Association. She also serves on the Northern Ireland Committee on Sport for the Disabled, the Ulster Sports and Recreation Trust, the Northern Ireland Sports Council, the Sports Council of Great Britain, the Belfast 1991 Sports Committee, the Sports Aid Foundation and the British Athletics Federation. She was a member of the Women’s Committee of the International Amateur Athletics Federation from1995-1999; was President of the British Athletics Federation from1996-1998; and was Patron of the Northern Ireland Amateur Athletic Federation. Her work for charities has also raised £300,000.
She remains an important ambassador for Northern Ireland. Her commitment to charitable work and dedication to helping others has won her various honours and awards, including the BBC Sports Personality Award, entry into the Belfast Telegraph and Irish Post Halls of Fame, as well as several honorary doctorate degrees. Mary Peters was awarded the DBE in 2000, and served as Deputy Lieutenant of Belfast in 2004.