Fatima Whitbread: who is Olympian on I'm A Celebrity South Africa - what did she say about her childhood?

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Fatima Whitbread had viewers and campmates in tears when she shared painful childhood memories on I'm A Celebrity South Africa

Fatima Whitbread has been labelled a legend by fans of the TV show Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Win and ITV's I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here South Africa as she opened up about the most painful experiences of her childhood. The 62-year-old left viewers and co-stars in floods of tears.

The Channel 4 show pits contestants against harsh environments in a two-week long training programme and recreates many elements of the United Kingdom Special Forces selection course.The Special Forces programme is a notoriously difficult test both physically and mentally.

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While she is also appearing on the all-stars series of I'm A Celebrity in South Africa, starring alongside the likes of Helen Flanagan, Amir Khan, Joe Swash and more. Partaking in a number of gruelling and creepy crawly-filled Bushtucker Trials in their quest to become the first ever I'm A Celebrity Legend.

But who is Fatima Whitbread and what did she say about her childhood on both shows? Here's everything you must know.

Who is Fatima Whitbread?

Fatima Whitbread  (Getty Images)Fatima Whitbread  (Getty Images)
Fatima Whitbread (Getty Images) | ITV

Fatima Whitbread is a retired javelin thrower. She was the first ever British athlete to set a record in a throwing event and has also represented Team GB in the Olympics.

Fatima took up the javelin at the age of 14 and was adopted by Margaret Whitbread, a former javelin thrower who turned into a national coach. Fatima became European Junior Champion in 1979 at the age of 18, before representing Team England as a teenager at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. On that occasion she failed to qualify for the final.

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Whitbread continued to progress, picking up a first bronze medal in the 1982 Commonwealth Games and going one better at the World Championships by winning silver in 1983.

During her career Whitbred formed a well documented rivalry with her teammate Tessa Sanderson. The pair both reached the podium in 1984 at the Olympic Games with Sanderson winning gold and Whitbread securing a bronze medal.

The best was still to come for Whitbread and the greatest moment of her sporting career came when she set a world record during the qualifying stages of the 1986 European Championships. Whitbread would enjoy the best patch of her career by winning gold in that tournament and the following year’s World Championships in 1987.

In 1987 Whitbread was voted Britain’s Sports Personality of the Year. She retired from javelin in 1992 and ended her career with one gold medal at the World and European Championships and  silver and bronze medals at both the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.

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Fatima Whitbread enjoyed an incredible career in Javelin (Getty Images)Fatima Whitbread enjoyed an incredible career in Javelin (Getty Images)
Fatima Whitbread enjoyed an incredible career in Javelin (Getty Images) | Getty Images

What has Fatima Whitbread said about her childhood?

During her Celebrity: SAS: Who Dares Wins appearance, Fatima Whitbread was mightily impressive. Whilst many of the younger contestants on the show struggled while they were locked in the gas chamber, Whitbread was able to keep her composure by saying she was an SAS soldier when being interrogated by the instructors.

Following the challenge in a candid chat with Mark Billingham and Jason Fox, Fatima began to reflect on some of her early childhood trauma.

She said: “I was abandoned as a baby and, some would say, left to die in a flat in London. A neighbour heard a baby crying for a couple of days and didn’t see anyone coming or going so she reported it and the police came along, banged the door down and rescued the baby, and it got taken to hospital, where I stayed for six months.”

Fatima added that the first 14 years of her life were spent in a children’s care home with no visitors. She said: “I was fortunate to find the love of the Whitbread family at 14.” Fatima met her adopted mum, javelin coach Margaret after spending a week on holiday with her family.

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Then during her time on I'm A Celebrity South Africa all-stars series, Ms Whitbread could be seen in floods of tears as she told her campmates more about her earlier struggles.

Fatima said: "In the children’s home when we were kids, we always had an assigned job and we were always in that routine. I had two people in my life, Corrie and Auntie Ray.

"Auntie Ray was an East End girl. I’d be really sad when she went off duty. One day I decided to pick all the daffodils and knock on her door and ask her, ‘Will you be my mum? And she said, ‘Fats, I’ve got to be mum to all you kids, so I cant always be here.

She continued: "She taught me a lot about looking after the other kids and how you give and you receive. You’ve got to have a star in every child’s life.

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Later in the episode, which aired on 3 May, an emotional Fatima Whitbread added: "There has been a lot of history I had forgotten about in my life, and when I spoke about it, it brought it all back to the surface again and brought a tear to my eye."

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