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Fell runner Lauren Jeska jailed for attempted murder of UK Athletics official

Fell runner Lauren Jeska jailed for attempted murder of UK Athletics official

Ralph Knibbs was stabbed at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium

Former English fell running champion Lauren Jeska has been jailed for 18 years for the attempted murder of a UK Athletics (UKA) official at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium in March 2016.

According to West Midlands Police, Jeska left Ralph Knibbs, UKA’s head of human resources and welfare, with “life-threatening injuries to his head and neck” after stabbing him on the morning of March 22 last year.

Kevan Taylor and Tim Begley, who are also members of UKA staff and tried to assist Knibbs during the incident, were also injured in the attack.

Jeska, who has run for Todmorden Harriers and Eryri Harriers in the past, had pleaded guilty to attempting to kill Knibbs.

Previously, on the Todmorden Harriers website, 42-year-old Jeska was described as the women’s 2010, 2011 and 2012 English fell running champion, who also won the British Championship in 2012.

In a statement released by West Midlands Police, Detective Sergeant Sally Olsen said: “We understand that Jeska had been asked to provide further evidence of hormone levels after historical complaints to UK Athletics that she had an unfair advantage competing in women’s events because she had been born a man.

“The governing body’s policy required the athlete to take a blood test but she took exception to this and feared being unable to compete.”

In a statement, Jeska’s parents, Pauline and Graham Jameson, said that the “stress and confusion” of the affair with UKA had “triggered a mental health crisis”.

According to West Midlands Police, UKA told the court: “UK Athletics is a national governing body for the sport of athletics in this country. It works to support athletes, with their welfare being key to what we do. Therefore none of its activities would ever have been expected to result in such a chain of events taking place.

“Our Head of HR Ralph Knibbs has always been a very popular, friendly, supportive and much respected figure within our workforce. That such an attack should happen to such an individual was devastating, but to have it played out within our office cut to the very core of our organisation.

“The impact of the attack on Ralph has therefore been deep and lasting at both an individual employee and a corporate level, changing attitudes and working practices. Athlete welfare is a key element of everything we do, and for us to suffer such an unprovoked and brutal attack as a consequence of trying to assist and support an athlete has been a very difficult thing for staff to comprehend and respond to.”

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