Sandra Farmer-Patrick

Sandra Farmer-Patrick
Personal information
Birth name Sandra Miller
Born 8 August 1962 (1962-08-08) (age 54)

Sandra Marie Farmer-Patrick (née Farmer, born 18 August 1962) is a Jamaican born American former athlete who competed mainly in the 400 metres hurdles. She won silver medals in that event at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, and at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart. She also won the 400 metres hurdles at the World Cup in 1989 and 1992. Her best time for the event of 52.79 seconds (1993), is the former U.S record. That performance once ranked her second on the world all-time list, and (as of 2016) still tanks her in the world all-time top ten.


Farmer-Patrick was born Sandra Miller in Kingston, Jamaica and lived there until she was eleven years old bouncing between an aunt and her grandmother. She moved to Brooklyn, New York adopted by her great-aunt Vita Farmer and took on the Farmer last name. Vita brought Sandra up in a deeply Pentecostal environment, attending church six times a week, three times on Sunday. To get out of the house, she joined the Flashettes Track Club.

At first she was forced to run in a dress for religious reasons. She continued to run in short skirts and tutus as part of her more flamboyant professional career, whenever she had the choice of uniform. Her stylish, flashy attire was perhaps as notorious as FloJo at the time.[1]

Sandra set an American Junior record of 58.90 in the 400 hurdles at age 14, which ranked her number 5 amongst all Americans.[2] Scholarship money she won in the Colgate Games kept her in St Angela Hall Academy. She lowered her time to 58.31 while in high school.[3] She briefly attended the University of Arizona, but ended up running for California State University, Los Angeles (at the same time as the Howard sisters). In addition to some very fast relays with the sisters, she still holds the school record in the 400 hurdles.[4] She was elected into the CSULA Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.[5]

Starting in 1982, she represented Jamaica in international competition, until 1987, removing her name from the American rankings list. At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, she finished eighth in the 400 m hurdles final in a sub-par race, the first time the event was held in the Olympics.

Farmer-Patrick was ranked in the world's top ten for the 400 m hurdles for the first time in 1987. In July of that year, she ran 54.59 to win a silver medal at the Pan American Games in Indianapolis behind Judi Brown-King. Then in September at the World Championships in Rome, she finished fourth in the final in 54.38, only 0.07 from a medal.

After marrying David Patrick and hyphenating her name, Farmer-Patrick began competing for the USA in 1988 and attempted to qualify for the US Olympic team for Seoul, but was disqualified in her semi-final at the US Olympic trials for inadvertently running out of her lane. Having dual citizenship, she had the option to run for Jamaica, but by switching to the USA, some Jamaican newspapers had branded her as a traitor. Her appeal to the Jamaican Federation went unanswered.[3]

In 1989, she was unbeaten in the 400 m hurdles and was the fastest woman in the world at the event, improving her best to 53.37. In September, she won the World Cup title in Barcelona, running 53.84 to defeat Tatyana Ledovskaya and Sally Gunnell. In 1990, she won the Goodwill Games title in 55.16, defeating Schowonda Williams.

A medal favourite for the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, Farmer-Patrick ended up fourth in a time of 53.95, in a race won by Tatyana Ledovsakya, with Sally Gunnell second and Janeene Vickers third. Still she was ranked #1 in the world for 1989, 1991 and 1992.[6]

She competed for the United States in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, where she ran 53.69 to win the silver medal behind her greatest rival, Great Britain's Sally Gunnell. A month after the Olympics, she successfully defended her World Cup title in Havana, ahead of Gowry Retchakan and Margarita Ponomaryova. The following year at the 1993 World Championships held in Stuttgart, Germany, she broke the existing world record running 52.79. But Gunnell also broke the record finishing .05 faster at 52.74, passing after the last hurdle and pushing the diving Farmer-Patrick to another silver medal.

She was ranked #1 in the USA from 1988 to 1993.[2] Having missed the 1994 season due to pregnancy, Farmer-Patrick returned in 1995 and finished fourth at the US Championships. She then qualified for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. At her third and final games, she was eliminated in the semi-finals, failing to reach the final by just one-one hundredth of a second.

Personal life

Farmer-Patrick married fellow 400 m hurdler David Patrick in January 1988 and is currently living in Austin, Texas with their two children David and Sierra. Sierra is currently playing collegiate volleyball and running track at the University of Texas.[7]


Year Competition Venue Position Notes
1982 Central American and Caribbean Games Havana, Cuba 1st 58.15sec
Commonwealth Games Brisbane, Australia 9th 59.07
1984 Olympic Games Los Angeles, United States 8th 57.15
1986 Goodwill Games Moscow, Soviet Union 7th 56.28
1987 Pan American Games Indianapolis, United States 2nd 54.59
World Championships Rome, Italy 4th 54.38
Grand Prix Final Brussels, Belgium 3rd 55.30
1989 Grand Prix Final Fontvieille, Monaco 1st 54.60
World Cup Barcelona, Spain 1st 53.84
1990 Goodwill Games Seattle, United States 1st 55.16
1991 World Championships Tokyo, Japan 4th 53.95
Grand Prix Final Barcelona, Spain 1st 53.74
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain 2nd 53.69
World Cup Havana, Cuba 1st 55.38
1993 World Championships Stuttgart, Germany 2nd 52.79
Grand Prix Final London, England 1st 53.69
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, United States DQ (semi-final)[8] DQ (54.73) (Doping)


Sporting positions
Preceded by
Australia Debbie Flintoff-King
Women's 400m Hurdles Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Tatyana Ledovskaya

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