Sporting heroes of the 80s still loom large in the public imagination, perhaps because there were fewer channels and events than there are today. Whatever the reason, these people had personalities to match their talent and were loved by sports fanatics and those less interested in sport alike. Here are four of the most memorable athletes from that era.
Sporting heroes of 1987
Diego Maradona – Argentinian footballer
Argentinian legend Diego Maradona was one of the most talked about football players of the era. The ‘hand of god’ goal which helped seal Argentina’s victory over England in the 1986 world cup, meant he was reviled as much as admired by UK-based sports fans for years. His jump over Peter Shilton to palm the ball home is one of the most memorable elements of his stellar career. Although he battled with drug addiction later in his career, he is generally regarded as one of the world’s best players ever.
Martina Navratilova – Czech tennis player
Czech tennis player Martina Navratilova was a mainstay of ladies’ tennis throughout the 80s. She defeated another stellar player Steffi Graf 7–5, 6–3 in the ladies Wimbledon final of that year, her sixth consecutive Wimbledon title. Navratilova was World No. 1 for a total of 332 weeks in singles, and a record 237 weeks in doubles, making her the only player in history to have held the top spot in both singles and doubles for over 200 weeks. She also reached the Wimbledon singles final 12 times, including nine consecutive years from 1982 through 1990.
Michael Jordan – US basketball player
American basketball star Michael Jordan was every little American boy’s idol in 1987, and his appeal spread across the Atlantic and beyond. Jordan joined the National Baseball Association and the Chicago Bulls in 1984 and became the first player since Wilt Chamberlin to score more than 3,000 points in a single season. A pretty smart businessman, he was the inspiration behind Nike’s Air Jordan brand. He also acted in the kids’ movie Space Jam – for which Warner Brothers built him an on-set basketball court.
Tessa Sanderson – javelin player
Jamaican-born Tessa Sanderson was a well-established, well-loved javelin thrower by 1987. She’d been the UK’s leader in the field from the mid-1970s, and bagged the Olympic gold in 1984 as well as the gold in the Commonwealth Games three times (in 1978, 1986 and 1990). She’s accumulated several non-sporting gongs too including a CBE, OBE and MBE from the Queen in 2004, 1997 and 1985. Sanderson has undertaken some public work since she retired, once appearing in an episode of EastEnders and participating in ITV’s Dancing on Ice goes Gold.