Aged 70 and still hurdling to gold medals

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 September 2019

Jean Fail during one of her races. Picture: Jean Fail

Jean Fail during one of her races. Picture: Jean Fail

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An Exmouth grandma continues to prove age is no barrier to athletic achievement by winning three gold medals at the European championships.

Jean Fail won three gold medals. Picture: Jean FailJean Fail won three gold medals. Picture: Jean Fail

Jean Fail, who recently turned 70, came away from the masters athletics competition, in Venice, having won the 80m and 200m individual hurdles in the over-70s age category.

In her first event in the over-70s group, Jean broke the British record time for the 80m hurdles.

She also picked up gold as part of the 4x100m relay team in the over 65s section and broke their own British record in the process.

The septuagenarian, who was a world, European and British hurdles champion in the over-65s age group, said: "This is my first competition as a 70-year-old so I was very pleased with it.

Jean Fail won three gold medals. Picture: Jean FailJean Fail won three gold medals. Picture: Jean Fail

"There are not many people of my age that do what I do."

She has been hurdling since the age of nine and overcame a career-threatening knee injury to make a triumphant return at the World Masters Athletics championships in Australia in 2016.

Jean, of South Street, is semi-retired and works at Tesco, in Salterton Road, in order to pay for travel and accommodation to compete at championships like the one in Venice.

Last year, she was successful in a fundraising bid to help her defend her world champion crown in Malaga.

However, at the age of 69 competing in the over 65s age group, she was pipped to the post by a competitor who was four years younger than her.

The grandma is hoping to continue her success in the new age category.

She said: "I am the youngest at my age group so hopefully I will keep breaking records."

Speaking in April last year, Mrs Fail said she hopes her achievements raise awareness that athletics in not just a young person's sport.

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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