Sheroes: Marcia Richardson

Marcia Richardson

This is the story of Marcia Richardson: a very fun loving, happy-go-lucky Black girl who was born and raised in Slough. She is the eldest daughter of her mother, Pat Gumbs, and her father, Nelson Richardson.

Marcia’s parents’ relationship ended whilst she was very young. However, their joint commitment as parents was honoured. Alongside this, Marcia’s grandparents on both sides were actively involved in her upbringing. And it is very evident that good discipline and a high code of conduct was instilled in her.

Marcia recalls fond childhood memories: spending time between both grandparents, feeling the warmth and love of being nurtured in a loving environment. In her words “the warmth and protection of being a part of a large family”. Each of Marcia’s parents had at least eleven siblings on both sides.

Black culture has shaped Marcia, from the food to music and heritage. She knows about diversity and her ancestors in the Caribbean, who never gave up and achieved great success in what they put their mind to.
In her childhood days, she remembers Montem School, playing games during break time: racing against her childhood friend Lorna McDonald and just enjoying the joy of how running made her feel.

The summer of 1983 she entered the school junior championships and won her races. She recalls Mr Eustace Herbert giving her a flyer inviting her to Windsor Slough and Eton Track to get help with training and developing her skills.

This was to be a pivotal point in Marcia’s life. She really embraced the benefits of the club and met a lot of people who became her friends and are still her life long friends till this day.

Marcia was entered in competitions and placed well and very soon excelled as a world class sprinter.

Representing Slough on a Olympic and World Championship level meant Marcia was regularly competing on a world stage and raced alongside some of the fastest women in the world. There were occasions when Marcia would place dead last. And so many family members watching her on television shouting and screaming at the box and disappointed with where she placed. This may have disheartened Marcia for a short while, but her and her best friend made a mantra from a popular song by Aliyah “Dust yourself off and try again”. And true to her resilient and champion mentality she pushed past the seemingly disappointing results. Now on reflection out of millions of contestants world wide she had often placed within the top Ten or Twenty bracket consistently. This gave Marcia the opportunity to attend and compete in two Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000.

The biggest challenge that Marcia had to face was during her participation in the world student games in Buffalo in 1993. A sudden urge came over her to pack her suitcases and everyone was asking what she was doing because the team had not yet finishing competing.

It was the most strange and surreal thing, as a little while later Marcia’s best friend Michelle Griffiths came to tell her the worst news of her entire life – her mum had passed away. The shock, horror, disbelief was all running around her head. At the same time she recalled the questions “how?”. The response was “an asthma attack”. Marcia was accustomed to her mum regularly experiencing those all the time. “How could that have killed her?” she thought through her tears. She then went into guilt and blaming herself “Oh if I was at home maybe I could have saved her”. The horrifying reality was she was a petrified twenty-one-year-old, so far away from her big family support network and she was in shock from the trauma of the grief stricken moment.

Guilt, disbelief, shock, horror all at once: death is so final. “Let’s go”, her colleague Michelle said. But Marcia instructed Michelle to stay and compete. Michelle had come to Buffalo to compete in the triple jump competition and she placed and got a medal and then they both travelled back to the UK together.

On arrival back in the UK, Marcia’s younger siblings were in need of nurturing and she automatically took up that role. Marcia spoke about the trauma, and in those times professional grief counselling or mindset support was not an established thing. However, over the years Marcia has counselled and supported many people through life circumstances or health, and would recommend grief counselling to help anyone young or older to cope with such a tragic loss.

It’s those things that if she had the power to turn back time, what would she have said to her mum in that last conversation before her trip away. No regrets is another sentiment that Marcia has taken on board. Do your best in relationships whilst you can!

Marcia was always grateful to both her parents for their love and support of her athletic career. Their encouragement for her to complete her education and to be her best. They supported her to never give up and to always endeavour to be the greatest version of herself.

In true testament of a world champion, Marcia excelled, completing her university course and continued her athletic career. She has gone on to coach and train athletes on having choices and plans after their predicted and expected early retirement.

Marcia’s green eyes beam out and she has a smile that lights up any dark room. Marcia is proud about how Slough Community has been so supportive to her during her time as an athlete and that is why she has chosen it as the place to raise her two sons.

Following in the footprints of her amazing parents, she and her husband Adam support their two sons commitment to Athletics, Football, Swimming and most things active.

We are proud to acknowledge Marcia Richardson and her part she has played in the history books as a Slough British Black Woman. We are so grateful to know a part of your journey and the resilience and perseverance it takes to be a champion.

We honour you and we are extremely grateful to have you as a part of Slough’s elite squad.

Read about our other Sheroes