Barbara Inkpen

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameBarbara Jean•Inkpen (-Lawton)
Used nameBarbara•Inkpen
Born28 October 1949 in Farnham, Surrey, England (GBR)
Died3 September 2021 in Carshalton, Greater London, England (GBR)
Measurements181 cm / 68 kg
AffiliationsAldershot, Farnham & District AC, Farnborough (GBR)
NOC Great Britain


Barbara Inkpen competed in the high jump at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics just a couple of weeks before her 19th birthday. She finished 13th using the straddle style of jumping. The following year she improved to eighth pace at the European Athletics Championships in Athina (Athens). In 1971, Inkpen enjoyed what was her finest moment at the time on the international stage, when she broke her own British record three times on the way to finishing joint second behind Austria’s Ilona Gusenbauer in the Europeans at Helsinki. Having used the straddle style for so long, she changed to the Fosbury Flop just three weeks and four days before the Championships. It was only the second time she had used this style in competition.

A second Olympic appearance followed at München in 1972, when Inkpen finished fourth, just beaten for the bronze medal by Gusenbauer. Inkpen married Surrey county road walking champion Carl Lawton in 1973, and the following year she carried off the biggest prize of her career when she won the British Commonwealth Games high jump gold medal at Christchurch, New Zealand, and beat Canadians Louise Hannah and Brigitte Bittner into second and third place respectively.

Domestically, Inkpen was the 1965 and 1966 English Schools high jump champion and in 1969 won her only WAAAs title when she beat Dorothy Shirley into second place, having finished second to Shirley the previous year. Inkpen was second again in 1973 when beaten, yet again, by Ilona Gusenbauer.

Inkpen also won two WAAA indoor titles (1969 and 1970) and was seven times the Surrey high jump champion between 1967-74. She was also the heptathlon champion in 1975 and was three-times a long jump runner-up. She had a long jump personal best of 6.17. Inkpen broke the British high jump record seven times and her record of 1.87, set at Crystal Palace on 22 September 1973, stood for almost seven years,

Inkpen’s husband Carl Lawton was a former chairman and president of Belgrave Harriers and was the 1981 winner of the London to Brighton walking race.

Personal Best: HJ – 1.87 (1973).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1968 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Barbara Inkpen
High Jump, Women (Olympic) 13
1972 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Barbara Inkpen
High Jump, Women (Olympic) 4

Special Notes