Never too old to go for gold: Bearded barefoot runner and 100-year-old shot-putter competing at the World Masters Games
By Richard ShearsLast updated at 5:54 PM on 11th October 2009
With a puff, a heave and a ho, 100-year-old Ruth Frith tossed a 9lb shot an astounding 14ft to win a gold medal at the World Masters Games yesterday.It must be said, though, that Mrs Frith was the only shot-put competitor game enough to turn up for the event in the women aged 100-104 category. Her possible competitors were too old to get to the Sydney stadium or didn't have the strength to lift the weight. She was one of 28,292 competititors from 95 countries ranging in age from 24 to 101 who were taking part in the world's biggest multi-sport event.
Ruth Frith launches her winning throw at the World Masters Games which saw a record 28,292 competititors from 95 countries ranging in age from 24 to 101 compete
Canada's Olga Kotelko, left, prepares for lift-off and a fellow competitor grimaces with effort
'I only had to turn up to win the medal, but that wasn't going to be good enough for me,' said the great-grandmother. 'I had to show everyone that I could still do it.' Loud cheers echoed around the Olympic Athletic Centre stadium when Mrs Frith tossed the weight, rivaling many amateurs who were decades younger.
'This calls for a celebration drink,' an official told her, but Mrs Frith replied: 'No thanks - I don't drink and I don't smoke. This modern way of celebrating isn't for me.'
So this suggests she leads a very healthy life style, with plenty of vegetables, it was suggested to her.
One competitor takes a tumble while another strides on in the 60-64 year category of the 100m heats. And it was 'no shoes for me, please' as athlete Santa Claus (yes that is his name) of Australia ran full pelt in the 100m heats of the men's 80-84 years category
Another Aussie competitor and again no shoes. Osmo Millridge, 77, makes the water jump during the mens' steeplechase for the 70 plus age range
Earl Fee of Canada, centre, leads out his 80-84 age group in the 100m at the games
'Oh goodness no - I haven't eaten vegetables since I was a kid. I don't like the taste. Bread, meat, fine, but no vegetables, thank you.'
What she misses out on in the healthy eating stakes, she makes up for with her training. She walks everywhere and does bench presses five days a week with 80lb weights.
Her performance with the shot put inspired 90-year-old Canadian Olga Kotelka, who broke a nine-year-old world record in her age group.
Mrs Frith has been labelled one of the most inspirational athletes at the Games, an international multi-sport event held every four years and is open to sports people of all ages and abilities. It runs until October 18
However, the minimum age varies depending on the sport but ranges from 25 to 35.The first World Masters Games were held in Toronto in 1985.
When they were staged in Melbourne in 2002, they attracted almost 25,000 competitors, more than double those who took part in the Sydney 2000 Olympics and five times more than those competing in the 2006 Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne.As for Mrs Frith, does she think she'll be competing in the next World Masters four years from now? 'I'm just taking each day as it comes,' she said.
'Each year is just another year, but I don't think "oh, I'm going to be 99 or I'm going to be 100".
'You just enjoy each day and let the years go by.'