World champ Jean's funding nightmare

PUBLISHED: 06:30 28 November 2016

Jean on the podium after winning gold.

Jean on the podium after winning gold.


A world champion athlete from Exmouth is facing having to give up her crown - unless she can find sponsorship from the community.

Jean with her gold medal at home.Jean with her gold medal at home.

Jean Fail, 67, of South Street, landed a gold medal for the 80 metres hurdles last month at the Veteran World Championships in Perth, Australia.

The hurdler, who took the title after fighting back from a career-threatening injury, said a lack of funds was preventing her from competing in the next world championship in Malaga in 2018.

She said: “At my age, we do not get any funding. We just rely on sponsorship - and that is hard to come by.

“I feel lost because I don’t like to ask for sponsorship. It doesn’t seem right, but it is the only way I can continue competing in world championships.”

She added: “It is a bit of a pain. It is what I have done for so many years. I would love to go and defend my title.”

Jean, who paid £2,000 to go to Perth, must pay for her own accommodation, travel, sportswear and entry into the competition.

She said: “If anyone is willing to help me, I am willing to do some advertisements.

“The only reason I managed to go to Perth was because I sold a flat in Bournemouth and I had a little bit extra left. I said I would treat myself this year - the money left is what I have for the rest of my time.”

Jean first discovered her talent when her father, also a hurdler, spotted her technique.

She started athletics again at the age of 38, after giving it up when she was 15.

Jean claimed a bronze in her first world championship in Oregon, United States, in 1989.

She went on to win several world titles, including in Japan and Brisbane.

The athlete said she was thrilled to return to win in Perth.

She said: “I was absolutely over the moon because I had a knee repair two years ago - and didn’t think I would be able to run again.

“It has taken more than two years to get back to number one. It is a lot of hard work. There were a lot of ups and downs. I was sometimes wondering if I was ever going to get there.

“Standing on that podium with the medal and national anthem playing, it just made me cry.”

If you would like to sponsor Jean, email her at

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