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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December, 2003, 19:15 GMT
Jane raises bar again
By Caroline Cheese

Jane Tomlinson with her MBE
It is possible to look forward in your life and not just spend your time living and coping with your disease
Jane Tomlinson MBE

Paula Radcliffe described Jane Tomlinson as the most deserving winner at last year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.

A year on from picking up the Helen Rollason award for courage in the face of adversity, Jane has gone on to bigger and yet more astonishing achievements.

Diagnosed with terminal cancer three years ago, Jane reckoned her best course of action was to use her remaining time challenging the limits of her body and mind in the name of fund-raising.

In 2002, she completed the London Marathon, the London Triathlon and the Great North Run, raising over 100,000 for four cancer and children's charities.

She began 2003 by running the York half-marathon before cycling from John O'Groats to Lands End, taking two days off for intensive chemotherapy treatment.

Two days after finishing, she was in London becoming the first chemotherapy patient to complete the marathon.

It is a double feat which her husband Mike described, with spectacular understatement, as "a bit mind-boggling", but it turned out to be just preparation for what would be her biggest challenge.

January: York half-marathon
March/April: Bike ride from John O'Groats to Lands End
April: London Marathon
August: London Triathlon
August: UK Half-Ironman
September: Great North Run
The main aim for the year was to complete the UK Half-Ironman contest in Sherborne, Dorset, for which Tomlinson used the London Triathlon as a mere warm-up.

Mike explained: "Sherborne was the highlight of the year for both Jane and I.

"She was the first terminally ill competitor in an ironman event and she finished it in six and a half hour hours - an hour under the time she expected.

"It was astonishing really - not accounting for the fact that she is obviously very poorly."

The event involved a 1.2 mile swim, followed by a 56-mile bike ride and ended with a half-marathon, which Jane completed in less than two hours.

All the while she has had to contend with the secondary cancer which affects her shoulder, hip, leg and four spinal bones down to her pelvic joint.

Paula Radcliffe wins the Great North Run
Not surprisingly, the 39-year-old from Rothwell, Leeds, has been showered with awards and tributes, and Radcliffe recently named Tomlinson as her sporting heroine.

Jane was typically abashed by the compliment - and immediately responded in kind.

"It means an awful lot for her to mention my name - I've got a lot of admiration for Paula and I think she's a phenomenal sportswoman," Tomlinson said.

"I train hard for my events but what she does is absolutely incredible."

And while Jane is idolised by many of Britain's best sportsmen and women, she admitted to being awestruck at last year's BBC event.

"You say hello to people and you don't want to do the starstruck thing, do you?" she said.

"I wanted to be running round getting people's autographs, but I don't think that's the done thing."

Even better was to come in October when Jane went to Buckingham Palace to collect an MBE - but she and her family remain focused on one goal.

The money raised benefits four charities:
Cancer Research UK
Paediatric Acute Services at Leeds Hospital Health Trust
Hannah House, a Leeds care home for children with severe learning difficulties
"The awards are extremely rewarding but they also allow us to raise awareness of the charity," said Mike.

"From our point of view, we have done the BBC award justice. It would have been a cardinal sin to have got the award, come home and done nothing.

"Awards like that open doors and they have added at least 100,000 to the fund-raising this year."

The Tomlinsons set a target of raising 100,000 this year - they have tripled that already, making a total of 430,000 since 2002.

Jane is also in touch with fellow cancer sufferers who have contacted her through her website.

"I just tell them it is possible to look forward in your life and not just spend your time living and coping with your disease," she said.

Her actions speak even louder than words and health permitting, Jane promises an "even more adventurous year in 2004".

Links to more Sports Personality stories


Jane's fighting spirit
08 Dec 02  |  Sports Personality 2002
Q&A: Jane Tomlinson
05 Jan 03  |  Forum

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