November 25, 2010
91 Year Old Woman Sets Athletic Records

91 year old Canadian Olga Kotelko holds many athletic records for her age group.

Masters competitions usually begin at 35 years, and include many in their 60s, 70s and 80s (and a few, like Kotelko, in their 90s, and one or two over 100). Of the thousands who descended on Lahti, hundreds were older than 75. And the one getting all the attention was Kotelko. She is considered one of the world’s greatest athletes, holding 23 world records, 17 in her current age category, 90 to 95.


At last fall’s Lahti championship, Kotelko threw a javelin more than 20 feet farther than her nearest age-group rival. At the World Masters Games in Sydney, Kotelko’s time in the 100 meters — 23.95 seconds — was faster than that of some finalists in the 80-to-84-year category, two brackets down.

Her 16.1 foot shot-put record compares with the world record for all women of 74.3 feet. So she's way below what a youthful athlete can do. But to do what she can do at age 91 is extremely rare.

People in their late 60s and beyond lose most of their muscle mass. Kotelko is losing hers much more slowly. So researchers who study mitochondria (a sort of cell within a cell that breaks down sugars for energy) are looking for hints that perhaps her mitochondria are not aging as rapidly. Early indications are that, yes, her mitochondria in her muscles are in much better shape than expected for someone her age.

The article is worth reading. It starts to get scientifically interesting on page 3 where it starts to survey some of the theories of aging. One question a scientist brings up: Is it that the muscles are aging or that neurons are losing their connections to the muscles? That's an important question to figure out because it would guide choice of rejuvenation therapies. Would youthful muscle stem cells do the trick? Or youthful nerve stem cells? Or some sort of drug to guide neurons to reconnect with muscle strands?

The body is made up of parts just like a car is made up of parts. Develop the ability to replace worn out body parts and you gain the ability to keep an old body going just like replacing car parts enables you to keep an old car on the road.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 November 25 06:19 PM  Aging Exercise Studies

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