When you look back at Ann Lewis’ athletic career which is littered with wins at Major Veteran’s Championships and age group British and World records it is remarkable considering she only took up race walking by accident.
Ann joined AFD in 1987, being a swimmer who wanted to compete in biathlon competitions. Although she competed regularly as a runner, her career was fairly unremarkable, showing no signs of the successes which were about to follow.
It was in 1991 that AFD Ladies section entered a team to compete in the newly-formed Hampshire Veterans League. One of the events in that league is the 2000 metre walk. She had four sessions with John Delaine, our race walking coach before her first race. So on 29th April 1991 a remarkable career began starting with a victory in her first race.
Ann continued to compete in the vets’ league as a walker but still continued running, however with her success in the vets’ league she broadened her horizons somewhat and competed at various levels in 1991 and 1992. This culminated in her winning the BVAF W40 5000 metre Championship in a Championship Best Performance in 1992.
More success was to follow the following year. Moving up an age group to W45 Ann was to become National Champion in the 3000 metre event both indoor and outdoor and also in the 5000 metres in another Championships Best Performance. Injury then kept her out of all sporting activity for the last four months of the year and this made up her mind to give up other activity and concentrate on race walking.
1994 saw Ann consolidate her position as Britain’s leading lady veteran walker, winning W45 National Championships at 3000 metres, 5000 metres (beating her own Championships Best Performance) and 10,000 metres on the track as well as the 10K and 20K titles on the road, breaking the British age-group record at 5000 metres. She also represented Hampshire as a senior in the Southern Inter-Counties taking first place despite being a veteran of over 45 years. She held on to all five titles the following year this time breaking the British record in the 3000 metres indoor competition. In amongst all this success Ann entered the London marathon in 1995 and race walked all the way in a time just under 5 hours.
1996 was the year Ann made her presence felt on the world stage winning a silver medal in the World Veterans W45 championships in an AFD vest. That year she also broke the World W45 record in 3000 metres indoors as well as twice breaking the 5000 metre British Record in both 1996 and 1997. Veteran race walkers must have been sick of the sight of Ann Lewis by the end of 1997. During the five years she was eligible to compete in the W45 category she won the National championships in three events in each of the five years and a further two events four years out of five plus the 10000 metre track race twice.
In 1997 she also won two European medals, Gold in the indoor 3000 metres and Silver in the 20K road walk.
Since 1998 when she turned the magical age of 50 ( I know we shouldn’t discuss a lady’s age but when you compete in Veterans athletics it’s difficult to hide it) Ann’s successes have shown no sign of abating. She’s won Gold in the World Vets (10K Road in 1999 and 20K Road in 2000), Gold in the Europeans (5000 metres and 10K road in 1998, 20K walk in 1999 and 2001). She has represented Great Britain Veterans in 3000 metre walk in 1998 and 1999 taking bronze on both occasions. She has also represented Hampshire at senior level competing against mere youngsters and won on both occasions (in 1998 and 2000). She has also been National Champion at all six walking events (3000 metre indoor & outdoor, 5000 & 10,000 metre track, 10K and 20K road) breaking the British record in each discipline.
At National level Ann has never been beaten in her age group since she started race walking in 1991.