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Olga Kotelko holds 26 world records and has won hundreds of medals since taking up track and field at age 77. A new book, ...
"What Makes Olga Run," explores what the 94-year-old can teach people about aging well.
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Holding 26 world records and earning hundreds of medals would be significant achievements for any star athlete _ let alone a retired schoolteacher who first took up track and field at age 77.With her 95th birthday looming on March 2, Olga Kotelko isn't inclined to look in the rear view at her accomplishments _ she'd rather set fresh goals for the road ahead. The Vancouver resident is already scheduled for meets in Kamloops, B.C., and Budapest, and is aiming to participate in at least one each month this year, with 100-metre dash, long jump and javelin among the many events in her repertoire.As a competitor on the masters circuit which features other veteran participants, Kotelko's lofty medal haul and athletic accomplishments later in life have been a focal point of fascination. But asked for her own personal theories on why she has excelled, the kindly Kotelko offers only humility.``I thought to myself this is something that I can do, that I enjoy it. I really do like competing and I stayed with it, and that's what I'm doing now _ and I don't expect to stop. I don't see any reasons why I should stop,'' she said, a slight rasp trickling into her delicate, lilting voice.``It's good for me, it's good for my health, and what I really want to do is share this experience of myself and my life with the people.''Award-winning writer Bruce Grierson spent more than a year working on a lengthy profile on Kotelko for the New York Times published in 2010. But after extensive research, he felt there was more still to be explored, forming the basis of his new book ``What Makes Olga Run?'' (Random House Canada.)``There were so many dimensions to Olga's story that weren't particularly germane just to the science. It seems to be just about human flourishing that was bigger than the scope of the magazine piece. And I thought: 'Yeah, now we're into something bigger.'``Not only can we talk about the science, but more and more, I like to share Olga with people, because I was really becoming beguiled by her personality and her strategies and all these things that are different than the science.''Billed as a modern-day quest for the fountain of youth, the book explores how Kotelko and several other seniors continue to compete and thrive at a stage in their lives where many of their peers are slowing down rather than picking up the pace. In addition to undergoing tests of cognitive skills, muscle tissues and more, Grierson ruminates on whether other aspects of Kotelko's life can help explain her physical prowess.