2013 National Senior Games: These Athletes Aren't What You're Expecting

The National Senior Games (or "Senior Olympics") take place in Cleveland, Ohio this week, host to 13,000 athletes over the age of 50 competing in a wide variety events including the 10,000m run, archery, bocce, hammer throw, cycling and volleyball.

In a society dominated by elite athleticism and peak performance, a likely first impression disposes this event as a field day where old people go to showcase depreciated talents. That's not the case with Flo Meiler.


This 79-year-old native of Shelbourne, Vermont isn't your typical grandmother of five and great-grandmother to two who spends her time baking cookies and knitting quilts in a rocking chair. A super-granny, she trains five5 to six6 times a week, boasts 750 medals, and holds 15 world records. The best part? She started competing in track and field at the age of 60.

Meiler is the only woman in the world competing in the 75-79 pole vault so it's fitting she holds the world record in that event (6' 8"), but she's just one of many inspiring senior athletes around the world. 

Philippa "Phil" Raschker (66), is a reknown Masters sprinter and a pioneer in the women's pole vault. Elected to the USATF Masters Hall of Fame in 1997, Raschker has taken 71 gold medals at the World Masters Athletics Championships.

 

Miriam Jackobs (73), began participating in race walks in 1998 and since then has competed in races on all seven continents, including Antarctica in March 2012.


 Ed Whitlock (82), became the first person over 70 to run a marathon under three hours in 2003 (2:59:10). He did it again at the age of 73 (2:54:48); an age-graded equivalent to a 20-year-old running 2:03:57, which would be the second- fastest time ever run.


 Olga Kotelko (94), is perhaps the most famous of them all,; she holds every track and field record for her Masters competition age group. Doctors from the Montreal Neurological Institute and McGill University studied her muscle tissue in search for her prized athletic ability, discovering an abnormally slow deterioration rate.


To the majority of us who hope to still be walking when we turn 80, these athletes teach us all that it's never too late to try anything and that the human body is actually more resilient than we tend to believe. The recipe for Flo is maintaining a healthy diet, staying active, and preserving a restless discontent for the stereotypical senior life.

When asked by CNN if she had ever been injured, she replied, "Oh I've had a few injuries. The most severe one I got was splitting my knee open on the barrier when I was doing the steeplechase. I got maybe a dozen stitches there. But I healed up within a couple weeks, and I was right back doing the same thing."

Resilience. The secret to longevity.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


2013 National Senior Games - Schedule of Events

2013 National Senior Games - Results

Top Ten US Performances and Current Records

Masters Athletics - World Rankings