|Representing Great Britain|
|1952 Helsinki||4x100 metre relay|
|European Athletics Championships|
|1950 Brussels||4×100 m|
|1954 Berne||Long jump|
|1954 Vancouver||Long jump|
|1954 Vancouver||80 m hurdles|
She won bronze medals at the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games and is the only British woman to have won gold medals at the European Athletics Championships in both a track and a field event (4×100 m relay in 1950, long jump in 1954). During her career she set British records in the women's pentathlon and the long jump.
She and her husband, Ron Pickering, had a lasting impact on British athletics, particularly through the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, which provides support to young track and field athletes. Her son, Shaun Pickering, followed in his mother's footsteps and went on to become an Olympian and a Commonwealth Games medallist, competing in the shot put.
Born in Forest Gate, London, she made her international debut at the age of eighteen, competing in the 80 m hurdles. She represented Great Britain at the 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki, Finland, where she finished fifth in the 80 m hurdles and won the 4×100 metres relay bronze medal with her team mates Sylvia Cheeseman, June Foulds and Heather Armitage.
In the 1950 European Championships in Brussels, Desforges finished fifth in the 80 m hurdles and was part of the gold medal winning 4×100 m relay team. She was European Champion in the long jump, in the 1954 European Championships in Berne, Switzerland, with a leap of 6.04 m. At the same championships Desforges finished sixth in the 80 m hurdles. She remains the only British athlete to have won a European gold medal in both a track and a field event.
In the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Canada, Desforges won a bronze medal in both the long jump and 80 m hurdles.
Desforges was an eight-time British champion in athletics, having won the 80 m hurdles four time (1949, 1952, 1953 and 1954), the long jump twice (1953 and 1954), and the pentathlon twice (1953 and 1954).
She ended her career with personal bests of 11.1 seconds for both the 100-yard dash and the 80 m hurdles. She also broke the British record for the pentathlon in her career, accumulating a total of 3997 points in 1953.
Family and foundation
She married Ron Pickering, a prominent athletics coach and television commentator, on 23 October 1954, in Forest Gate, London. The couple had two children, a daughter (Kim) in 1958, and a son (Shaun Pickering) in 1961 who went on to athletic success in his own right.
Her husband's death in 1991 led her to create the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund to help support athletics in Britain at a grass-roots level. By 2013, the Memorial Fund had given out £1.3 million in grants to young athletes, coaches and athletics groups. Such was the breadth of the fund's support, around 75% of the British track and field team had been Ron Picking Memorial Fund grant recipients earlier in their career, among them Olympic champions Jessica Ennis, Christine Ohuruogu and Greg Rutherford.
She was awarded an MBE in the 2010 New Years Honours List for her services to athletics. She was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011. Her passion for the sport remained until the end of her life – she suffered from bad health due to a heart condition in her last years but focused on being present for the Athletics at the 2012 London Olympics. She vehemently supported the continued use of London's Olympic Stadium for athletics after the Games, saying "If you pull that stadium down, who's going to inspire the kids of today? What message does it send them?". She died aged 83 on 25 March 2013.
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- Jean Pickering: 1929–2013. Athletics Weekly (25 March 2013). Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
- Athletics mourns loss of Jean Pickering (Funeral details added). England Athletics. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
- Jean Pickering, a woman who made an amazing impact. European Athletics. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
- British Athletics Championships 1945–1959. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
- Vamplew, Wray (2004). "Pickering, Ronald James (1930–1991)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 11 October 2009.(subscription required)
- "New Years Honours List 2010" (PDF). HM Government. 31 December 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- Collins, Mick (29 January 2011). I will quit if Spurs get the Olympic Stadium, rages Jean Pickering. The Daily Mail. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
- Ford, Martin (28 March 2013). Athletics world pays tribute to former Broxbourne resident Jean Pickering. Hertfordshire Mercury. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.