Olga Kotelko and The Fountain of Youth

The World's Oldest Long Jumper
The World’s Oldest Long Jumper

My friend Elizabeth believes that no good come from exercising. With every injury I’ve endured in the twelve years since I began running and doing triathlons, she gives me that knowing look and shakes her head and then repeats the words as if they are her mantra, “I told you no good ever comes from exercising.”

Photo by Suzanne Whitfield Vince
Photo by Suzanne Whitfield Vince

She’s wrong, of course. There are plenty of good reasons to exercise. For one, you can eat more donuts. Exercising increases your metabolism and helps you burn calories at a faster rate. It helps relieve stress. It improves your cardiovascular health.

It also increases your longevity. Just ask Olga, the world’s greatest (94 year-old) athlete.

Olga’s Story:

Seventeen years ago, at the age of 77, Olga Kotelko entered her first “masters” track and field competition. Today, at 94, she has over 700 gold medals and holds 26 world records and is the only woman in the world over 90 still long-jumping and high-jumping competitively.

Her secret? Good genetics? Researchers don’t think so. According to scientists at Genome Sciences Center in B.C. Canada, only about 25% of a person’s longevity can be attributed to genetics. The rest is determined by a person’s activity level.

Take a look at this video of the adorable granny from Vancouver, Canada.

I personally would like to know if Olga is up for adoption. I mean, I don’t have any grandparents, and she’s so cute I’d like to just squeeze her and kiss her.

What about you? Do you live an active lifestyle? What motivates you to keep moving?

11 comments on… “Olga Kotelko and The Fountain of Youth”

  1. Love the story. I run, I spin, I lift weights, and I bike. I try to exercise at least five days a week. At first I did it to lose weight and then I read somewhere that exercise is good for a lot of things but losing weight isn’t one of them. You can always eat more donuts than miles you can run. I exercise because it’s a great way to combat stress and to escape for a bit. And if I’m injured in the process (knee operation a few years ago) or well, there is always a price to pay.

  2. I’ve always exercised since I was twelve years old, but I’m still terrible at sports. However, during the few times when I couldn’t work out, I felt miserable, physically and mentally. I stay more active than some people my age, but I’ll never be able to keep up with Olga!

  3. Define active. I mean I do have to get up from the couch to get ice cream from the freezer. That’s action right? And several times a day I get up from my desk and walk down the hall to use the restroom. That involves walking, which is action.

    So, I’m going with yes, I live an active lifestyle.

    But seriously, I’m not nearly as active as I’d like to be. I would be more active if I wasn’t so lazy. I attend zumba classes 1-2 nights a week, depending on my husband’s work schedule, and I tap dance once a week for an hour, but I’d love to play golf, walk, do more things if I had the time and the energy. Getting old sucks.

    And yes, I’d love to have Olga as my granny. We’ll have to share custody of her.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  4. Nancy J.


    My whole goal for exercising is to feel good every day. For me it’s a huge “quality of life” issue. I’ve embraced an active lifestyle since I can remember. Being active helps every area of my life! I joke that my goal is to be that 80-something runner so I can finally blow out my age group at every race!

  5. You know, I have always been active since rooming with a track athlete in college. I caught the running bug. But I never realized, until much more recently that I equate working out with health. Wherher it be inline skating or running or swimming biking hiking canoeing archery rowing lifting weights ir just walking! I love it all. I have some fear that if i stop being fit I’ll get ill. Maybe there really is something to it! After a year long bout with cancer, I was weak as a kitten. I don’t ever want to feel that way again! My motivation comes from family friends coworkers and media. Oh yeah, from inside too I think!

  6. Our family did the Air Force exercise program in the 50’s. I’ve been active ever since. My motivation is the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Must keep moving or I freeze up. Hiking the mountains helps my arthritic knees. AND I can eat more chocolate!

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