In The News

Former athletics star Donna Hartley passes away

Former athletics star Donna Hartley passes away

Former athletics star Donna Hartley has passed away suddenly. She was 58.

Ms. Hartley had won a bronze medal for Great Britain in the 4x400 metres relay event at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.

Her season prior to the Olympics had been hampered by injury and as a result she had been dropped from the individual 400m race. But in the relay event she produced a stunning final lap to snatch third place for G.B. against all expectations.

In the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton she had become a double champion after winning the individual 400m and the 4x400 relay races (see below).

Born Donna-Marie Murray in Southampton, she had joined the city’s amateur athletics club as a teenager. She was eventually trained by coach Mike Smith and was the youngest member of the Great Britain team at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Three years later she won the Amateur Athletics Association 200m and 400m titles, and was British 400m champion in 1977, the same year she married fellow athlete Bill Hartley. 

But injury was to prevent her from reaching her full potential on the running track — she was forced to retire because of problems with an Achilles tendon.

In 1986 she married her second husband, the actor and comedian Bobby Knutt (real name Bobby Wass). For a time she competed on the British women’s body building circuit as Donna Hartley-Wass and won the Miss Britain Physique trophy in 1988.

She passed away while sunbathing at her home in England.

To see Donna Hartley in action at the 4x400m relay event at the 1978 Commonwealth Games, click here.

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