Michelle Scutt (nee’ Probert), born in 1960 of a North Walian father, is one of Britain’s finest 200/400m runners of all-time.
She was the first Welsh female athlete to win an Olympic medal, taking a bronze when running the second leg in Britain’s 4 x 400m team at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. She just failed to reach the final of the individual event, finishing 5th in her semi-final in 51.89 secs, a time which was just 6-hundreths behind her best time.
In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, she was just past her best when she ran again in the individual 400 and the 4 x 400, reaching the semi-final of the former (52.07) and finishing 4th in the latter.
Her finest race though came at the UK Championships at Cwmbran Stadium in 1982. Overhauling the then UK number one, Joslyn Hoyte-Smith just inches before the line she came home in a new Commonwealth and UK 400m record of 50.63 seconds to improve her best by almost a second.
Remarkably, this time has stood as a Welsh record for over 30 years and is still good enough to be the 8th fastest all-time by a Briton at the end of the 2013 season. A further measure of her outstanding ability is that amongst British athletes only former Olympic and double World Champion Christine Ohuruogu and rising 400m hurdles star, Perri Shakes-Drayton ran faster than Michelle’s best in 2013.
Also, her Welsh 200m record of 22.80, set in Antrim in 1982 still stands in 2013 as the Welsh record. She remains the only Welsh female sprinter to better 23 secs for 200m.
Her other major international triumph came at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games, where she won the 400m silver medal in 51.97, finishing just behind Australia’s triple Olympic silver medallist, Raelene Boyle.
A life-long member of Manchester’s Sale Harriers, she first came to prominence when winning the UK Women’s AAA under 17 200m title in 1976.
She first broke the Welsh 400 record in 1979 clocking 54.05 in Greece, bettering the 54.6 set by Gloria Dourass eight years previously. She went on to better the record on eight more occasions before ending with that 50.63. Altogether, she set a total of 15 Welsh records including 11.57 for 100m set in 1984 and that 22.80 for 200m.
Michelle has been a great servant of Welsh athletics, winning a total of eleven Welsh senior titles, including a record five successive 100m titles between 1978 and 1982.
She was inducted into the Welsh Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.
Clive Williams, October 2013
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