It's official! Wellingborough sprint hero Anita confirmed as an Olympics history maker
Anita Neil represented Great Britain at Olympics, Commonwealth and European athletics events
Wellingborough sprinter Anita Neil has finally been confirmed by the British Olympic Association (BOA) as Britain's first black female Olympian after a long quest for recognition of her achievements.
The athletics prodigy represented Great Britain at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico at the age of 18 in the 100m and the 4x100m relay and went on to compete in the Munich games in 1972.
Over the decades Anita had wondered why her pioneering story had remained largely unacknowledged and ignored outside her town and her name missing from the history books as reported by this newspaper last week.
Today, a spokesman for the BOA said that to the best of their knowledge she is Great Britain's first known black female Olympian.
A BOA spokesperson said: “Anita, as with all of our Olympians, plays a unique part in Team GB’s Olympic history. We are incredibly proud of her and her legacy and we are only sorry that we lost touch with her. We look forward to staying in touch with her over the coming months and years on our campaign to highlight and hero pioneers of British Olympic sport such as she is.”
Speaking from her Wellingborough home, the 70-year-old grandma-of-three said: "Wow. Now I know for certain it's lovely. I like to be number one and to have this acknowledged is great - fantastic.
"It's about time too and now I know what is what."
The BOA say they have some plans to highlight her amazing story and they will ensure she gets more regular contact in the future - Olympians receive anniversary cards to mark their participation at Games and Anita will be added to their mailing list.
After contact with the World Olympic Association, Anita has applied successfully to use the letters OLY after her name, an honour bestowed on those who have participated in the Olympic Games.
She said: "It represents the hard work and perseverance required to reach the highest level of world sport and I can use it for social, commercial and charity purposes, and honours my achievements.
"I can't wait for the BOA to get back in touch. They say they are going to interview me over Zoom about my story."