Sheroes: Lesley Owusu

Lesley Owusu

This tall stunning, silky black skinned, confident woman called Lesley Owusu. She is a descendant of Ghana, born to two Ghanaian parents in Taplow hospital, Slough.

Lesley is the second child of three siblings and at a very young age she was sent back to Ghana. This was common for early settlers from Africa or the Caribbean to send their children back to be raised by family members. Lesley was raised by her grandmother in Ghana.

Lesley can remember the freedom to play in the sun and to be without restrictions. She enjoyed being able to run jump, hide, climb trees, cars, everything was just like paradise. Lesley also studied the ambience of her village and loved the food, the music, the stories and traditions. She was taught a wealth of knowledge and spoke the local language fluently. Everywhere she turned, she was surrounded by people that looked and spoke like her. Lesley was a very quiet young lady that fully enjoyed her own company. She spent such a lot of time in her imagination playing quietly but having so many adventures by herself. She was aware of her little sisters’ company and would always spare time for a cuddle or acknowledgement and they still have that very close and precious relationship up to this very day.

After years of life in Ghana, Lesley’s parents returned the girls to the UK. Their brother Lloyd had not left England, and he had stayed with mum and dad. His personality was very British influenced and completely different to the two girls.

The language was a big barrier for Lesley and her shyness at times made her behave quite withdrawn. If she did speak at times due to the nervousness she would stutter and get flustered.

At break times when the bell rang she would run as fast as she possibly could to an empty space where she could almost visualise scenes of Ghana and her freedom.

On one breaktime her brother Lloyd must have seen her running to go and participate in her favourite break time activities of hugging a tree. This gave her so much peace and reminded her of being back in Africa. That was to be the start of her career as he made a bet for £1 with his friend that his sister could win against the fastest girl in the school.

Lloyd explained to Lesley that she would get £1 if she won the race against the fastest girl, Lesley agreed. In her mind she was already licking her lips from the taste of strawberry bon bons or any other of those delicious sweets in her corner shop.

The hype started in the school. But the fastest, most popular girl was not phased, she looked down on Lesley as a younger, shy, little girl.

The day of the race the rumours and excitement were all over the school, so much so the headteacher came out to witness this big race.

The rest is history. On your marks, get set, go! Lesley won the race with ease and grace. She collected her £1 from her brother Lloyd, and everyone rushed to say congratulations. She was so shy and ran to the corner shop and got her sweets. She was not able to take all the attention on herself.

Her brother Lloyd was very impressed with how fast his sister really was and so were the sports teacher, head teacher and the school spectators.

From that day forward, Lesley’s life at St. Anthony R.C School Slough was never the same, and that marked the start of her junior championship athletic journey.

When asked, “what did you think helped you to develop a champion’s mindset?”, Lesley’s answer was her parents’ support and she trusted her brother. She also drew strength from her time spent in Ghana with her grandmother. The freedom she encountered, the interaction with natural elements, sunshine, nature and the people etc.

Her grandmother’s influence, as well as her parents, was very important. She was loved, supported and encouraged to be great.

Those older examples of athletes paved the way for her to follow: Windsor Slough and Eton Athletic Club and Marcia Richardson definitely being one of those examples. Her brother, the footballer was also a big influence.

Lesley is a teacher, an inspiration to many and a mother of two lovely children. Recently an opportunity came for Lesley to embrace athletics again for a charity and she got back on good form very quickly, so her journey is not over yet. Let us see what this unstoppable, once quiet, now such an eloquent, motivational, world class speaker will perform in the future.

Lesley has truly run with the wind. And her vibrant but humble personality has touched the darkest of situations and her presence lights up anywhere she goes. Just like the star she is continuing to rise and shine brightly.

Competitive Record

  • 2001 British National 400m Senior Champion
  • 2001 Big 12 400m / 200m champion; NCAA 400 metre silver medallist
  • World University 400m finalist (5th)
  • European Junior 400m finalist (6th); Youth Olympic 200m Silver medallist
  • Three Time British 400m Jnr Champion Three time English Schools 200m/400m Champion
  • British and European 600 yard record holder (1:17:92)
  • World Championships 2001 4x400m 5th; 2006 4×400 metres 5th
  • Commonweath Games 2002 4x400m 2nd

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