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Olympic sprinter to lead Swaffham carnival procession

09:56 13 July 2012

Ann Jenner in her Olympic uniform, with her grandmother

Ann Jenner in her Olympic uniform, with her grandmother

Archant

An athlete who sprinted for Britain at the Olympics 52 years ago will lead Swaffham’s very own version of the opening ceremony at a special Olympic-themed carnival on Sunday.

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Ann Ewer, nee Jenner, celebrated her 19th birthday at the 1960 Rome Olympics where she got through to the second round of the 100m sprint.

Now aged 70, she will carry Breckland’s version of the Olympic torch when she leads a parade of 20 teams around the town centre before Campingland hosts athletic events with a Norfolk twist, including the carrot javelin and the swede shot putt.

Mrs Ewer said: “It was really exciting and nerve racking, of course. We were all friends together so a group of us used to go out, but not late at night because we were all in bed early.”

She said that, in scenes reminiscent of Chariots of Fire, the team was taken to the Italian coast by coach to train by running through waves breaking on the shore, a feat she described as “very difficult”.

But perhaps her most surreal experience came when rumours circulated that a British female athlete had too many male hormones. Her photograph appeared on the front page of the Sketch, leading Italian photographers who wrongly assumed it was her to surround her as she got off the plane.

After the Olympics she advertised Ovaltine in magazines, which left her unable to compete as an amateur athlete, and after marrying on Christmas Eve 1960 she followed her RAF officer husband around the world.

The couple retired to Swaffham in 1993, and Mrs Ewer still goes to the gym and plays golf.

She said: “Looking back, I’m really quite disappointed that I did not do any better because the feeling now is you have to win, but the feeling in 1960 was just competing.”

The Swaffham Olympic Carnival will take place from 1pm to 6pm on Sunday July 15, with the procession starting from Swaffham Infant School at 1.30pm. The event will be followed by a barbecue.

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