Olympian, Commonwealth & European Indoor Champion, Mike McFarlane OBE, joins the BRIT family
We are delighted that Mike is supporting BRIT and championing the annual BRIT Challenge.
Mike is a retired Great Britain sprinter who amongst his many achievements and medals, won silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, gold at the 1982 Commonwealth Games and gold at the 1985 European Athletics Indoor Championships.
“Having worked with students in a pastoral capacity, and spent almost forty years competing with, training or coaching young elite athletes, I am aware of the increase in the numbers of young adults and students who are living with mental health challenges. It is clear that we must do everything we can to help young adults and students now, in order to avoid them experiencing long-term mental health difficulties.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on particular groups in society, especially those on a low income, people with an existing mental health condition, children and young adults and people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. Having lived in East London all my life, I know that supporting the mental health and wellbeing needs of young adults will require a collaborative multi-agency approach.
The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) Vision is inspiring. They are striving to unite the Education, Sport and Charity sectors, to support and improve young adult mental health throughout the UK; I am delighted to see that so many National Governing Bodies are partnering with BRIT and helping then deliver a UK-wide annual BRIT Challenge that every university and college can take part in.
BRIT have designed their annual BRIT Challenge to be inclusive so that students and staff of all abilities can take part in many different ways; by hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling (canoeing, kayaking or paddle-boarding). I hope that the BRIT Challenge will be embraced by every East London university and college so that their students and staff are able to participate.
I am thrilled to joining the BRIT Ambassador family and urge my fellow Olympians, Paralympians and Elite Athletes to join me; by uniting, we can encourage as many universities and colleges as possible to enter teams in the BRIT Challenge and support their students as they complete their distance and fundraising targets. Inviting elite athletes to share their experiences of mental health with young adults can be a very positive way to increase feelings of self-esteem and self-worth; it also reduces the stigma surrounding mental health and ensures young adults and students have the confidence to ask for support.
I look forward to supporting City of London College, College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, City College, Newham College, New City College and the University of East London as they take on BRIT Challenge in February 2022. This is a great way for the East London colleges to have a friendly competition and see who can complete the most miles, encourage the most amount of students to take part and raise the most for BRIT and their partner charities. Good luck to every student who takes part.”
Mike’s love of athletics and sprinting started when he was at school in the London Borough of Hackney. He won the English schoolboys’ 200 metres on three occasions and went on to win the Amateur Athletic Association’s (AAA) Junior Indoor 60 and 200 metres titles and the AAA Junior Outdoor 200 metres title. Mike was also a South of England Champion and in 1979/80, won the European Junior and AAA Indoor 200 metres titles.
In 1980, Mike represented Great Britain at the Moscow Olympic Games where he reached the quarter final of the 200 metres. He was also a member of the sprint relay team that reached the final and finished 4th and set a new British Record.
Mike won the 200 metres at the 1982 UK Championships and that same year, represented England at his second Commonwealth Games. He won a joint gold medal alongside 1980 Olympic Games 100 metre gold medallist, Allan Wells. Alan and Mike could not be separated in their 200 metres final and both sprinters won gold.
In 1984, Mike won the 100 metres at the UK Championships and that same year, represented Great Britain at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Mike finished 5th in the 100 metres final.
Mike became the 1985 European Indoor Champion at 60 metres and in 1986, competed at his third Commonwealth Games. He won bronze in the 100 metres and silver in the 4 x 100 metres.
In 1988, Mike represented Great Britain at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. He won silver in the 4 x 100 metres with teammates Elliot Bunney, John Regis and Linford Christie.
Since retirement as an elite athlete, Mike became a successful high performance coach and has also spent many years supporting young adults and students.
Mike graduated from the first UK Sport Elite Coaches Program and between 2004 and 2009, Mike worked at UK Athletics as a Performance Sprints Coach at the National Athletics Centre in Lee Valley.
Since 2009, Mike has worked a Performance Coach specialising in Elite Speed and Conditioning. He has been a regular member of the Team GB Coaching Staff at Major Championships and is also a qualified Basketball and Football Coach.
Between 2013 and 2020, Mike worked at Harris Academy, in both Falconwood and Rainham, as a Pastoral Officer and a Deputy Pastoral Leader. In these roles, Mike supported students and young adults on pastoral issues, improving attendance, restorative justice. He also worked with sports clubs and shared his experiences to improve physical education, health and fitness.
Mike has also worked as a Sports Pundit with various media agencies on the television and on the radio, and continues to work as a Keynote Speaker to businesses and organisations.
Mike is currently coaching Olympian and World Championship medallist, Desiree Henry who is fighting her way back from injury.