Full Name: John Regis
Date of Birth: 1966
Born: Lewisham, London
Club(s): Herne Hill Harriers, Belgrave Harriers
Coach(s): Eric Bennett, John Isaacs, John Smith & Mike McFarlane.
By the time John Regis made his championship debut at the European Juniors in 1995 in Cottbus, his surname was more synonymous with football - and that of his cousin Cyrille, who played for England on five occasions. But the pendulum of sporting power in the Regis family swung quickly towards athletics when John became one of the best known characters of the 1980s and 1990s. He always looked too powerfully built for a sprinter, but literally that was his strength. When the gun fired, he would charge from the blocks with such forcefulness and speed, almost defying the muscle bulk he carried. It was not a surprise that his father won prizes for body-building, but Regis’ ability brought him a world indoor title, a European Championship landmark and a role, sometimes forgotten because he was a 200m specialist, in the British quartet which won the World Championships 4 x 400m relay in Tokyo in 1991.
Jump To It
Regis won his first title when he was 15. It was the European Catholic Schools gold and it was in the triple jump where he leapt 14.28m. But he was on the route to following Cyrille by having trials with Arsenal, Charlton and Newcastle before deciding to concentrate on athletics. Football’s loss became very much track and field’s gain and within a matter of three years Regis was almost the 200m world champion. In 1986, at the age of 19, he was the fastest in Europe over the distance and he won the AAA title in 20.41, but he was only eighth in the Commonwealth Games and thus did not make the team for the European Championships’ individual event. He put that right, moving to be coached by John Isaacs and turning his career around.
In 1987, he made the podium at the World Indoor Championships when he finished third in the 200m, before producing one of the performances of his life in the summer’s equivalent. Regis combined all the elements of his make up to lead into the home turn in Rome’s Olympic Stadium, and he held on for 195 of the 200m. But it was not to be gold as he finished third in 20.18, the first of four UK records he set, as Calvin Smith, of the USA, won in 20.16, with Gilles Quenéhervé, of France, second in 20.16. Regis was part of the British team which won Olympic 4 x 100m relay silver in Seoul in 1988 before the following winter he won his first major individual gold medal when he triumphed at the World Indoor Championships in Budapest in 20.54. It was the following year where he produced an unprecedented display of form when he made history at the European Championships in Split.
Four Of The Best
It was some occasion for Regis, who is the only man in the 72-year history of the Europeans to win four medals at one championship. He took part in nine races during the week in the-then Yugoslavia and left with golds from the 200m and the 4 x 400m relay, where Briton broke the European record in a time of 2:58.22, silver in the 4 x 100m and bronze from the 100m. The following summer brought disappointment in the individual event at the World Championships in Tokyo when he was only fifth in the semi-final, before on the final day he found himself among the medals twice in under 90 minutes. First, Regis was in the 4 x 100m relay team which won bronze before then running the third leg of the famous 4 x 400m triumph against the USA. Regis joined Roger Black, Derek Redmond and Kriss Akabusi in their historic defeat of the USA in the 4 x 400m. Regis ran an impressive leg of 44.22 against Danny Everett before handing onto Akabusi who completed the triumph. Though he had never been a great fan of the one-lap event, here, and in Split the previous year, was a demonstration of his versatility. A 200m runner by trade, he had been part of one of the greatest moments in British track and field history - over double his distance.
Now was the time for individuality again, but no more titles. Regis was sixth at the Olympics 200m in Barcelona in 1992, though he did win a 4 x 400m bronze to go with his sprint relay silver from Seoul, but at the World Championships in 1993 he became the first Briton to break the 20-second barrier at the 200m. As Frankie Fredericks, of Namibia, triumphed in 19.85, Regis was second in 19.94, with American Carl Lewis third in 19.99.
A year later he took the time to 19.87, running at altitude in Sestriere before winning Commonwealth silver, again behind Fredericks, in Victoria in 1994. That summer he had been forced to miss the European Championships because of injury, the great irony of sport with him having been the star of the show four years earlier. He was awarded an MBE in 1994 and though he won bronze at the 1998 Commonwealths in Kuala Lumpur after injury had affected his previous year, he chose to bow out of the sport in 1999.
He is a director with Stellar Management, looking after a number of the country’s top athletes.
1985: 3rd 200m, 1st 4x100m European Juniors
1986: 8th 200m Commonwealth Games
1987: 3rd 200m European Indoors, 3rd 200m Worlds
1988: ht 100m, sf 200m, 2nd 4x100m Olympics
1989: 2nd 200m European Indoors, 1st 200m World Indoors, 2nd 4x100m World Cup
1990: 7th 100m, 2nd 200m, 7th 4x100m Commonwealth Games; 3rd 100m, 1st 200m, 2nd 4x100m, 1st 4x400m Europeans
1991: sf 200m, 3rd 4x100m, 1st 4x400m Worlds
1992: 6th 200m, 4th 4x100m, 3rd 4x400m Olympics
1993: 2nd 200m & 4x100m Worlds
1994: 2nd 200m Commonwealth Games; 1st 200m & 4x100m World Cup
1995: dns 200m World Indoors; 7th 200m Worlds
1996: qf 200m Olympics
1998: 3rd 200m Commonwealth Games
European Cup: 200m: 1st 1989 & 1993, 2nd 1991; 4x100m: 1st 1989, 1993-4, dq 1991
Won UK 200m 1985 (=), 1986, 1991, 1993; 100m 1988; AAA 200m 1986-7, 1990, 1992, 1995-6.
100m 10.15 (1993), 10.07w (1990); 200m 19.87A (1984), 19.94 (1993); 300m 31.67 (European best, 1992), 400m 45.48 (1993), 200m hurdles 22.79 (1991), TJ 14.28 (1982).
Indoors: 55m 6.21 (1993), 60m 6.71 (1991), 200m 20.47 (1995), 300m 32.98 (1993)
World indoor record 4x200m 1991