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Why the jungle holds no fears for Fatima

Printed From: The Blue Room
Category: Reality TV
Forum Name: I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here
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URL: http://www.theblueroom.me.uk/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=33450
Printed Date: 17 Dec 2017 at 10:14


Topic: Why the jungle holds no fears for Fatima
Posted By: Bren
Subject: Why the jungle holds no fears for Fatima
Date Posted: 15 Nov 2011 at 14:35

Her mother held a knife to her throat at the age of 13 as she was raped: Why the jungle holds no fears for Fatima

By http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/search.html?s=&authornamef=Richard++Pendlebury - Richard Pendlebury

Last updated at 12:50 PM on 15th November 2011

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Surely, one day, Hollywood will realise it has missed a trick, and make a film of Fatima Whitbread’s life story.

Crushing adversity, poverty, terrible cruelty and maternal rejection are usually the staples of boxing biopics. With fists of iron, the subject smashes his or her — remember Million Dollar Baby — way to some kind of victory over the fates.

The Whitbread story is less bloody. It concerns a short, shy young woman who was rather good at throwing the javelin. Along the way she became world champion, world record holder, Olympic medallist, MBE and Sports Personality of the Year.

Joyous:%20Fatima,%20aged%203,%20who%20was%20adopted%20when%20she%20was%20just%20three%20months%20old%20after%20being%20abandoned

Joyous: Fatima, aged 3, who was adopted when she was just three months old after being abandoned

Today she is flexing her still muscular frame in a spotted bikini in the I’m A Celebrity jungle. It all looks rather jolly, if you like that kind of thing. But few middleweights from the wrong side of the tracks have suffered the upbringing that Whitbread had to endure before she found success.

Her birth ‘mother’ — Whitbread does not like to use such a flattering term, preferring ‘that woman’ — was Turkish Cypriot; her biological father came from the Greek community of that bitterly divided island.

 

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  • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2061238/Im-A-Celebrity-2011-Fatima-Whitbread-bikini-flexes-Olympian-frame.html - Muscling in already are we?: Fatima Whitbread flexes her Olympian frame in a leopard print bikini

Born in north London 50 years ago, Fatima was an unwelcome accident, which brought social disgrace. But for neighbours’ vigilance, she would have died of starvation while still a baby.

Her mother abandoned her in a flat, and it was only days later that someone, alerted by the child’s cries, called the police.

Fatima spent four months in hospital recovering from malnutrition, and her first 14 years in a series of children’s homes.

Occasionally, distressingly, her biological mother would re-enter her life. The first time they met was deeply shocking, not least because young Fatima had not been warned that the woman was even alive.

High%20salute:%20Fatima%20has%20overcame%20her%20turbulent%20childhood%20to%20become%20World%20Champion
Fatima%20has%20overcame%20her%20turbulent%20childhood%20to%20become%20World%20Champion%20and%20a%20celebrity

High salute: Fatima has overcame her turbulent childhood to become World Champion and a celebrity

The pair were put in a car and driven to another children’s home, where Fatima’s half-brother and sister by her mother lived, and where little Fatima was to be moved. During the journey her mother barely spoke to her.

Fatima later recalled: ‘When we arrived, a house-parent told me: “Go into the garden and meet your brother and sister.” As I wandered into the garden, my mother grabbed me and said: “This is your sister, and if you don’t look after her I cut your throat.”

'This was my introduction to my biological mother, and from there things got worse.’

When she approached her tenth birthday, social services decided Fatima should start visiting her mother in preparation for a permanent reunion.

‘She turned up one day with some guys who were more or less pimps — they were there to take a look at me because by that time I was a big girl,’ she later recalled. ‘It was horrible.’

When she visited her mother’s flat, she was made to do the housework. Later, when she was 13 and on another visit, her mother’s drunken boyfriend raped her. Fatima screamed, but all her mother did was hold a knife to her throat and tell her to shut up.

The boyfriend came looking for her again and she had to hide in her half-brother’s bedroom, where he was having sex with his girlfriend.

Medal%20haul:%20Fatima%20%28top%20left%29%20after%20winning%20the%20Southern%20Counties%20trophy%20and%20the%20Victrix%20Ludorum,%20both%20in%20the%20same%20weekend%20in%201977
Full%20support:%20Fatima%20Whitbread%20with%20adoptive%20mother%20Margaret%20at%20Crystal%20palace

Full support: Fatima with her adoptive mother Margaret, whose encouragement led to several medals including the Southern Counties trophy and the Victrix Ludorum, which she displays (left) in 1977

Profoundly disturbed by these events, Fatima was often in trouble at school. It was a ‘nightmare of a childhood’, but one which was about to change profoundly for the better.

She met ‘my true mother’, Margaret Whitbread, during a school netball match, shortly before her 14th birthday. Mrs Whitbread was refereeing and took Fatima to task for arguing with her decisions.

Shortly afterwards, Fatima took up javelin at the local athletics club. The coach turned out to be the netball referee, who said: ‘Oh no, not you! If you behave like you did on the netball court, there’s no chance!’

But Fatima had no intention of misbehaving — she had found a woman she trusted and respected, and who showed her warmth and encouragement in return.

Such was the strength of the bond that quickly grew between them that Fatima was soon afterwards adopted by Mrs Whitbread and her husband, who had two sons of their own.

Memorable:%20Whitbread%20on%20her%20wedding%20day%20after%20marrying%20Andy%20Norman

Memorable: Whitbread on her wedding day after marrying Andy Norman

What happened next is a matter of the history books and sports pages. Under her adoptive mother’s guidance, Fatima won a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics and a silver four years later.

Her greatest glory came in the European Championships in Stuttgart in 1986, when she smashed the javelin world record, and a year later she was crowned world champion in Rome.

Snide remarks about her muscular physique and rumours linking her with performance-enhancing drugs dogged her career. She addressed these directly after she had retired. Her strength, she said, came from ‘incredibly hard work and amazingly hard eating’.

She explained: ‘I’m 5ft 5in and I was competing against girls of up to 6ft with a range of movement far greater than mine. To beat bodies like that, I had to make myself stronger, faster and more powerful than them.

‘I had to force-feed myself on a daily basis; large meals, then a high-protein drink with three eggs, bananas, ice cream and milk. A pint of that twice a day. I know it did strange things to me. My body didn’t function like a normal woman.

‘My breasts just disappeared beneath the muscle. I didn’t have periods for seven or eight years. I was told I couldn’t have carried a child because the lining of the womb had become too thin. Sure, it was strange. But it had to be done.’

Pride%20and%20joy:%20With%20her%20late%20husband%20and%20their%20son%20Ryan,%20aged%2010%20weeks

Pride and joy: With her late husband and their son Ryan, aged 10 weeks

Whitbread last competed in 1989. She was still only 27 and should have had her best years ahead of her. An Olympic gold medal was surely within her reach.

But a persistent shoulder injury dogged her for almost three years before she decided to quit for good. That moment came in 1992 when she tried a few simple exercises prior to seeing yet another specialist for help. Almost immediately her shoulder dislocated, as it had done previously.

Her coach — and adoptive mother — Margaret Whitbread was at her side. Neither said a word; their remarkable sporting odyssey had drawn to a close.

By that stage, another hugely influential, quasi-parental figure had entered her life.

Eighteen years Fatima’s senior, Andrew Norman was a former policeman who, by the Eighties, had become the most powerful figure in British athletics.

As promoter and agent, he dominated the sport’s move from the ‘shamateurism’ of under-the-table payments to open, full-time professionalism.

Norman’s abrasive style and monopolistic influence made him as many enemies as it did important contacts and clients.

One of those he took under his wing was Fatima Whitbread. The pair eventually became lovers.
Whitbread’s increasingly close relationship with Norman was said to have contributed to the promoter’s estrangement from British Olympic middle-distance champion Steve Ovett, whom he’d mentored since his teens.

When Norman was invited by Ovett to the runner’s home, he turned up with Whitbread on his arm, rather than his Norwegian wife, from whom he was later divorced. Ovett was not impressed. It was not until Whitbread’s professional career had ended that her relationship with Norman was made public, and even then only after they became engaged in 1992.

Two years later, her fiancé was fired from his job as promotions officer of the British Athletics Federation, after a coroner said that allegations of a sexual nature Norman had made against a sports writer who had been a persistent critic of his in the media had contributed to the journalist’s suicide.

By then, with Norman’s considerable assistance, Whitbread had swapped her throwing vest for a new role as president of a sports marketing firm. It attracted the cream of British athletics as clients. Most, if not all, were also represented by her husband.

Wonder%20woman:%20Fatima%20in%20the%20jungle%20this%20week

Wonder woman: Fatima in the jungle this week

Lifting%20spirits:%20The%20former%20world%20champion%20grimaces%20as%20she%20pulls%20herself%20up

Lifting spirits: The former world champion grimaces as she pulls herself up

The pair had married in 1997 and — her body having returned to functioning normally after her retirement — had a son, Ryan, who is now 13. Their £1 million home in the Essex commuter belt was a world away from Fatima’s own childhood circumstances. But their personal relationship soon faltered. Norman’s work increasingly took him to South Africa, where he wanted the family to make their home. But Whitbread had little interest in moving.

In 2005, she announced that they were separating amid rumours that her husband’s romantic attentions had become focused on an East European runner. Norman laughed off the stories, but the couple were still estranged when he died suddenly, two years later, aged 64.

The impact of this latest of many cruel twists in Whitbread’s life was revealed in a public court in 2009 after she was caught for speeding, having driven at 116mph to get back to her Essex home.

Whitbread broke down as she told magistrates that the recent deaths of her husband and her father-in-law had left her both an impoverished single parent and the main carer to Norman’s severely disabled mother.

It was from her mother-in-law’s home in Suffolk that she had been returning when she was caught speeding, a 120-mile round trip that Whitbread undertook three times a week.

‘With the passing of my husband, athletics doesn’t provide me with any back-up [financial] support,’ she told the court. I have to downsize my home as soon as possible.’

It was a humbling and rather moving admission from a courageous woman for whom life has too often been a brutal business.

‘Expectations from my past successful athletics career are not so easy to fulfil, and this hurts my pride,’ she added.

Pressed%20for%20time:%20Fatimas%20workout%20regime%20has%20resulted%20in%20toned%20muscles

Pressed for time: Fatima's workout regime has resulted in toned muscles

Pride may appear to be in short supply amid the ritual humiliations of the celebrity jungle. It remains to be seen if Fatima’s fitness regime will help her survive the notorious bushtucker trials, but one can only presume that she’ll have at least a slight advantage.

She and her Yellow team won their first task in the jungle after both teams were dangled above a tank of fish guts as they competed in a trial which saw them sticking their heads into tanks full of insects to retrieve stars.

Proving her mettle, Fatima appeared fearless when given a tank of eels. As a result, her team won themselves a comfortable camp with proper bedding and decent food.

Despite the challenges that lie ahead, Fatima has said that her biggest concern is leaving her 13-year-old son at home.

She said: ‘I am a single mum, and my son and I have been joined at the hip.

‘I have never left him for longer than 24 hours. I am sure I will put my head under the covers at night and there will be a few tears.’

‘I will deal with it, though,’ she added. ‘I hope it will enable me to learn to let go of him.’
Fatima Whitbread has broad shoulders on which she has had to carry far greater burdens. She is ready for her close-up.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2061550/Fatima-Whitbread-Im-A-Celebrity-star-raped-13-mother-held-knife-throat.html#ixzz1dmjGmfvQ - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2061550/Fatima-Whitbread-Im-A-Celebrity-star-raped-13-mother-held-knife-throat.html#ixzz1dmjGmfvQ



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