DUDLEY based Olympian and former European Cup Winner, Clova Court called in to see the Mayor of Dudley to celebrate her most recent title win.

Clova, who was born in Jamaica, moved to Dudley at age 17 and has made it her home ever since.

A successful heptathlete and hurdler, she represented Great Britain at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona plus the World Championships, European Indoor Championships and Commonwealth Games.

She represented Great Britain at international level in numerous different disciplines: heptathlon, 100 m hurdles, 200 metres, javelin, long jump, sprint relay team, plus indoor 60 m hurdles, pentathlon, and 4 x 200 m relay team.

Clova has made more than 57 appearances for the UK and is one of the few former Olympians to have captained a British team, and gone on to manage and coach a British team.

Although retired from competitions, she continues to coach young people across the Black Country.

Together with her husband Howard, she is a volunteer coach at Tipton Sports Academy and Tividale Park and has worked with young people for more than 20 years.

Her desire to give back and encourage young people to follow their athletic dreams led to Clova winning the Sunday Times Grass Roots Sportswoman of the year title last November.

Her role as a coach and mentor is entirely voluntary and unpaid, and she has worked with hundreds of young people over the years, many of whom have gone on to become professional athletes.

Clova began competing in the 1980s at county level and retired at 40 after representing the UK at Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

She has overcome injury and setbacks but continued to compete. In 1994 in Canada she had a terrible fall in the hurdles, losing her silver medal position.

Doctors thought she would never compete at world level again but seven months later she won the UK title and made the world championships semi-final in the sprint hurdles.

In the 1998 commonwealth in Malaysia, Clova was stretchered off after hurting her back in the long jump, but with absolute grit and determination managed to jog the 800m allowing her to complete the heptathlon, having already beaten the odds to compete at age 38.

Her final flourish was, at 40, representing the UK at international level in the 100m hurdles which had never been done in any sprint event, with Clova breaking the age 40 world record along the way.

The Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Anne Millward, said: “Clova is a remarkable woman.

“Her passion, skills and encouragement mean hundreds of young people across the West Midlands have benefited from the rewards of training with a true professional – learning not just how to be the best athlete they can, but about commitment, resilience and ambition.

“I was truly honoured to meet her.”

Clova said she went into athletics relatively late – in her 20s and it was tough learning new disciplines from scratch but she added: “It was challenging, but so rewarding and I just love working with young people who have that same spark.”

She said she was proud to win the Sunday Times Award for her grass roots work and she added: “Sport, grass roots sport in particular is struggling while school sport is in a dire situation nationally, hopefully winning this award can begin to highlight that situation.”