Don Thompson

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameDonald James "Don"•Thompson
Used nameDon•Thompson
Nick/petnamesIl Topolino, Mighty Mouse
Born20 January 1933 in Hillingdon, England (GBR)
Died4 October 2006 in Frimley, England (GBR)
Measurements168 cm / 55 kg
AffiliationsMetropolitan WC, London (GBR)
NOC Great Britain
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1


Don Thompson of the Metropolitan Walking Club took up race walking in 1951, and 1955 saw the first of eight successive wins in the London-to-Brighton walk. In 1956 he began another great series of victories with the first of his seven successive National 50km titles. The big disappointment of the 1956 season for Thompson, though, was his failure to finish in the Olympic 50 km. after collapsing when approaching the stadium. No athlete prepared more assiduously than the diminutive Don Thompson for the 1960 Olympics. With the aid of heaters and steam kettles he exercised in a sealed bathroom at his home in conditions which he felt stimulated the heat and humidity he could expect in Rome. This unique training method paid off as he won the gold medal with a new Olympic record of 4-25:30. Among those he defeated were all the post-war Olympic 50 km. walking champions: John Ljunggren (Sweden, 1948), Giuseppe “Pino” Dordoni (Italy, 1952) and Norman Read (New Zealand, 1956). Thompson took part in his third Olympics in 1964 and finished 10th. His best performance in three European Championships was his third place in 1962, but it was fitting that he chose the 1968 London-to-Brighton for his final race. He had a magnificent record in the classic road race, having won the event nine times and set a course record in 1957. Thirty years after winning the Olympic gold medal, Thompson came out of retirement at the age of 57 and finished in second place in the 1990 RWA National 100 mile championship.

Personal Bests: 20kmW – 1-34:45 (1961); 50kmW – 4-09:15 (1961).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1956 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Don Thompson
50 kilometres Race Walk, Men (Olympic) DNF
1960 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Don Thompson
50 kilometres Race Walk, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1964 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Don Thompson
50 kilometres Race Walk, Men (Olympic) 10

Special Notes