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Tuesday, August 3, 1999 Published at 18:33 GMT 19:33 UK


Test joy for sex row athlete

Kathy Jager: "I am a mother of two"

A veteran athlete at the centre of a gender row has been officially declared a woman.

Australian and New Zealand athletes at the World Veterans Athletics Championships at Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, accused American Kathy Jager of being a man.

[ image: Winning form: Officials ordered tests]
Winning form: Officials ordered tests
A blood test followed and moments before Mrs Jager's 200m race on Tuesday, Torsten Carlius, president of the World Association of Veteran Athletes, said the test had proved Mrs Jager was a woman.

The delighted 56-year-old mother-of-two from Phoenix, Arizona, then sprinted to a world record for her age group with a time of 28.32 seconds.

And she celebrated her victory with a thumping "high five" salute with an American teammate.

John McIntyre reports: "The athlete most certainly is a woman"
She also broke the world record in the 100m race.

Mrs Jager said afterwards she was "disappointed" by the claims and accused the Australian and New Zealand teams of "sour grapes".

Kathy Jager: "I rose above it"
She added: "I have had such wonderful support from staff, friends that I rose above it and did not let it spoil the day for me, which I proved in the 200m."

Mr Carlius said: "I have a lot of sympathy with the lady. The situation is that she has been accused of something that was untrue."

Ordeal over

US team manager Sandy Pashkin said she was pleased that the ordeal was over for Mrs Jager.

She said: "As the team manager I am happy that the incident is behind her and that she can continue to compete in the championships which is the reason why she is here."

Mrs Jager, a home health care nurse from Phoenix, Arizona, took up athletics at the age of 50, and since she began competing seriously has won a number of gold medals in state and national competitions in the United States.

'My dream'

In an interview last year with the Arizona Republic newspaper she explained why she had taken up pole vaulting.

She said: "My dream as a youth was to do something a little more athletic, but I never got the opportunity.

"So when I was 50, I decided to make this dream happen."

More than 6,000 athletes are taking part in the championships in teams from 74 nations.

Women above 35 years of age and men above 40 are eligible to compete in the games, which were officially opened by the new Sports Minister Kate Hoey on Saturday.

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