Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Jane Furniss-Shields (March 2017)

Jane Shields (City of Sheffield AC) was born in Sheffield, on 23rd of August 1960. She married David Shields, who was a keen 800m runner. They live near Graves Park, Sheffield and, have a son called Jonathan Shields, who won the World Junior Trials cross country at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough on the 11th of March 2017. Jane said straight afterwards “We are very proud’ She was surprised at the good fortune of her son “I can’t believe it” She also added “When we were juniors at 17/18, we went straight into the senior age groups. That was 30 years ago so; it was a great development to have juniors’

Jane Shields was a good track runner but a Superb cross-country runner, which I will prove later in this article.

How did it all begin for her?
‘We used to run cross-country at school. My maths teacher said ‘Come along and do cross-country’ A friend then said ‘Come lets join the local athletics club.’
‘I loved doing cross country. I did go to two Olympics on the track but I absolutely loved cross country.
It was the ‘National’ that was the big race of the season because the selection for the World Cross country came from that. I ran my first National at Graves Park Sheffield and, we live near Graves Park. The National for me was the most wonderful event and my record in the seniors was 4th; 3rd; 2nd; 1st; 2nd; 1st 2nd‘ then I stopped doing it.

When you just pick one result for the first six home when Jane was 2nd, in 1983, they were well known names in the UK. For example here are the contenders Christine Benning 21:35; Jane Furniss (Shields) 21:40; Christen Boxer 21.43; Deborah Peel 21:46; Paul Fudge 21:56 and Glynnis Penny 21:58.

I suppose an outstanding National for Jane Shields was on February the 15th 1984, at Knebworth Park, Hertfordshire, when over the 4.9k course she took off very, very, quickly and came home in first place by 26 seconds (Jane Furniss 16:16:35; Carol Haigh 17:11; Ruth Smeeth 17:12).
Which of those Nationals did she have the greatest battle in?
“The National and the Inter-Counties were tough races. In the latter when you got that Yorkshire vest on. Yorkshire women were dominant in the 1980’s.”

If she had to pick one race out, as being a big memory and an achievement for her?
‘The World Cross Country Championships in New York in 1984, when I came fifth. There were six of us battling for third place.’ (East Rutherford, New Jersey in March 1984.-First six were 1 Maricica Puica (Rumania) 15:56; 2 Galina Zakharova (USSR) 15:57;3 Greta Waitz (Norway) 15:58  4 Ingrid Kristiansen (Norway) 16:04; 5 Jane Furniss-Shields (England) 16:10; 6 Chris Benning (England) 16:15.
109 ran. First three.Teams 1 USA 52; 2 England 65; 3 New Zealand 91.
(The Mens race was won by Carlos Lopez, from Tim Hutchings and Steve Jones)

Regarding the Track some of the results that stand out:-
In 1983 when she ran a 4:30.95 mile on the 10th of August. In the World Championships in Helsinki Jane ran 8:45.69 for 3000m
She was 7th of 16 in the final. Wendy Sly was 5th in 8:35.55.
In the Los Angeles Olympics she was 6th in heat one in 8:48.0.
Her second Olympics was over 10,000 and she ran 32:46.07 in her heat but, ran a bit faster in 32:42.0 in August before the Games. In fact Jane Shields ran her fastest 5000 that year of 15:32.34.
Which of the two Olympics stood out for her?

“Los Angeles in ’84 as it was my first one. It was the first Olympics that were kind of commercial! In 1988 my team mate was
Liz Mc Colgan.”
Jane Shields comment about her days in athletics is quite inspiring for young readers
“The years were absolutely amazing, athletics defines your life“

Alastair Aitken

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