Her gold medals measure in the hundreds, and she has penned her name to more track and field world records than Usain Bolt. Olga Kotelko is one of Canada's most accomplished track and field athletes. And at 93 years old, she's hurling hammers and leaping into long jump pits at an age that most of us simply hope to see.
"Amazing?" says the nonagenarian, who practically scoffs at the suggestion. "There's nothing to it. If I can do it, why not?" Perhaps a better question is why? Why has Kotelko, owner of 17 world masters records in her 90-95 age category, been able to slow the aging odometer? A group of researchers at Montreal's McGill University are wondering the same thing.
"I don't want to paint it as if she's not aging, she certainly is. But she functions more like a very healthy 70-year-old than a 93-year-old," says Russ Hepple, a physiologist at McGill and expert on aging muscle. "And so the question is: why?"