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World Veterans Championships
Week 1 Report

Report by: Richard Byram

29th July to 8th August 1999 - Gateshead

Jenny Cunnane Record-breaking Wakefield athlete Jenny Cunnane reached the peak of her sport this week' when she struck gold in the World Veteran's pole vault at Gateshead on Tuesday.

The 42-year-old Wakefield Harriers AC star already has a string of British and European titles and records to her credit, but this is her first world title, although she had already taken a bronze in the hammer behind new Swiss world champion Margarith Duss-Mueller, who also set a new world record of 46.31m.

In the pole vault, GB international Cunnane kept her cool during a two and a half hour wait while the other competitors, including the German 35-40 age group world record holder Ursula Makowiek, were gradually eliminated.

With her first , in difficult swirling conditions which meant big clearances were likely, she cleared 2.80m which was good enough to give her the world crown.

Unfortunately, while completing the jump, she fell off the landing mat injuring her wrist and is now undergoing intensive physiotherapy in a bid to compete in her final event, the weights pentathlon, which features defending champion Zsuszanna Racoci of Hungary.

"I have set world records before, but never won a world title. I am pleased and delighted, I could not believe It when I had won. I am now hoping for at least a silver medal in the pentathlon to make it a full set" she said.

The 13th World Veterans Championships has attracted a field of more than 6,000 athletes from 74 countries and made national headlines earlier this week when American Kathy Jager, who took silver in the pole vault, was accused of being a man by the Australian and New Zealand teams.

A subsequent investigation proved that Jager was indeed a woman and although Cunnane was reluctant to comment publicly on Jager, she said the American was not the first competitor to have aroused such suspicions at a Veterans event.

It has been a busy week for Jenny. As well as picking up the world title, she helped her club side into the top division of UK athletics for the first time in its history and will be taking her place alongside son Danny when they represent Yorkshire in the hammer event at the Northern Inter Counties Championships at Scunthorpe.