Ida Keeling, the 102-year-old American athlete is a world-record holder. Her story just reinforces what we've already heard so many times — that age is just a number and it is never too late to pursue anything one wants to. She started her stint as an athlete to cope with the grief of losing her two sons. She was 67 years old at the time.
Born in 1915, Ida is the Masters world-record-holder for 60-metre and 100-metre distances in both '95-99’ and ‘above 100’ age groups. She set the world record in 2011 at a Manhattan track meet, for completing 60-metre run in 29.86 seconds when she was 95 years old. She set a record again in 2014 when she completed the 100-metres run in 58.9 seconds at the age of 99, the fastest-known time for her age. When she was 100 years old, she became the first woman to complete a 100-metre run at this age.
Ida was always active, but it was at her daughter’s insistence that she went for her first local 5,000-metre run. Her daughter Shelley, a track-and-field cross-country coach, initially told her mother that they are going for a mini-run. Ida realised only after reaching the venue that it was actually a 5,000-metre run. This did not scare her, and she still went ahead to successfully complete the run.
While speaking with Allure, Ida said,
Don't abuse yourself — that's your body. You're supposed to love it and take care of it and do the best for it.
Ida does realise that her pace has slowed down with age, but she emphasises how it is important to just keep moving, even if one is as slow as a caterpillar. While she uses a cane when walking, she does not use one on the track. While speaking with the Cleveland, she once said,
Well, walking with a cane takes minutes. Running with the champions takes seconds.