England are blessed with a golden heritage when it comes to heptathlon, but it's Dame Denise Lewis' 1994 Commonwealth Games victory that began the long-haul.

An international superstar on the track and now an icon in the pundit box, as well as President of Commonwealth Games England, Lewis has a long and distinguished history of standing on top of a podium.

And it all started for 21-year-old Lewis at the Victoria Commonwealth Games in Canada where she won gold in the heptathlon with a personal best of 6,325 points.

Lewis backed up her performance on the international level with another gold four years later in Kuala Lumpur with 6,513 points.

And she continued to inspire a generation as the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katrina Johnson-Thomson followed in her footsteps to international acclaim.

Lewis said: “Thinking back to the Commonwealth Games in 1994, being a surprise winner was just the most overwhelming and nerve-wracking experience, because mentally I hadn’t prepared to win.

“Going into the second day of the heptathlon, I was thrust into gold medal position with my worst event to go, in the 800m, and all I needed to do was hang on for that gold medal, and my life changed forever.”

“I think it definitely helped, having that championship experience going into 1998 in Kuala Lumpur, where I was favourite for the heptathlon. I just wanted to get the job done, and when you are one of the favourites, and representing your country, you want to deliver on the biggest stage of all.

“I think representing Team England is such a big deal, it’s a multi-sports environment, which a lot of athletes aren’t used to.

“Usually the Commonwealth Games is the first one, it was my first one, and so getting used to having all the different teams there, as one team, in the red and white… there’s a sense of unity, and that’s really powerful and it gives you a lot of confidence, and for a lot of athletes it’s the starting point for their career, and it can be transformational.”

At Olympic level, the athlete from West Bromwich secured a bronze at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games with qualification for the individual long jump event as well.

But happiness struck at Sydney 2000 as Lewis returned to the pinnacle of the podium with Olympic heptathlon gold.

And if gold wasn’t enough, Lewis demonstrated her fighting spirit, as she finished her 800m and claimed victory in the event with a bandaged calf and injured Achilles to become the first European to be crowned Olympic heptathlon champion.

Seven of the eleven Commonwealth gold medals have been won by Englishwomen over the history of the multi-sport event at the Games.

As heptathlon royalty, Lewis continues to be a beacon for future stars both on and off the track.