Under coach Malcolm Arnold, Jackson started as a promising decathlete before switching to hurdles. He won gold at the World Junior Championships before bursting on to the senior athletics scene in 1986 when, at just 19, he won silver at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in the 110 metres hurdles. Two years on from his Commonwealth success, Jackson took the silver medal at his first Olympic Games at Seoul in 1988.
With the start of the 1990s came his most remarkable and prolonged period of success. From 1990 to 2002 he won gold medals in four consecutive European Championships. He also won gold medals at both the 1993 and 1999 World Championships. In the 1993 event in Stuttgart, he accomplished perhaps his most memorable achievement by lowering the world record to 12.91 seconds, a figure which stood for 13 years, until China's Liu Xiang shaved .03 seconds off it in 2006.
August 1993 marked the beginning of an incredible unbeaten period for Jackson which lasted until February 1995, during which he won 44 consecutive races.
If there was a disappointment in Jackson’s career, it was his lack of Olympic success. His silver medal in Seoul proved his only tangible reward. In Barcelona in 1992 he had a minor injury and finished seventh, four years later in Atlanta he was fourth and in his last Olympic Games, in Sydney in 2000, he came fifth.
Jackson retired from athletics in 2003 following the World Indoor Championships in front of a home British crowd in Birmingham. Since then he has become a familiar and trusted face on television through his work as an athletics commentator and was also a member of London’s successful bidding team for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.