Exmouth’s Jean hoping to defend world athletics crown

PUBLISHED: 17:00 05 April 2018

69-year-old Jean Fail. of South Street, Exmouth, who is the European, British and world hurdles champion at over 65 level.

69-year-old Jean Fail. of South Street, Exmouth, who is the European, British and world hurdles champion at over 65 level.


An Exmouth grandma and champion athlete is hoping the community can rally round her as she aims to continue representing the town at an international level.

Jean Fail, 69, is a world 80m hurdles champion in the over-65s category and is gearing up to defend her title at the World Masters Athletics championships in Malaga September.

Since winning the title two years ago, Jean has become European and British indoor hurdles champion in the same age range.

In order to defend her crown at this year’s event – which is aimed at athletes over the age of 35 - Jean needs to raise funds to pay for travel and a hotel stay.

She is in the early stages of investigating how she is going to generate the total needed and estimates the cost to be ‘hundreds, rather than thousands’ of pounds.

Jean said: “I won’t be able to afford to go for the whole duration of the event, but my event is in the second week.

“I would love to be able to bring the title home again.”

The grandma, of South Street, Exmouth, is semi-retired and is working three days a week at Tesco, in Salterton Road, in order to pay for her to travel to Spain.

Jean told the Journal that returning home with the gold medal would be a proud moment for her.

She has been hurdling since the age of nine and overcame a career-threatening knee injury to make a triumphant return at the last World Masters Athletics championships in Australia in 2016. Since then, she has become European and national indoor champion in the 60m hurdles category.

As well as competing to bring the gold medal back with her, Jean hopes to raise awareness that athletics is not just a sport for young people.

She said: “Because a lot of people don’t know about the Masters Athletics, people look at you and think ‘how on earth can you still compete?’ We compete in five-year age groups, which is great because you’re competing against people who are your own age.”

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