Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won gold in the 100-metre sprint at the London 2012 Olympics, clocking a time of 10.75 seconds. Vancouver’s Christa Bortignon’s time for the same distance is 15.99 seconds. Fraser-Pryce is 25. Bortignon is 50 years her senior.
This speedy West Coast septuagenarian also competes in the 200-metre sprint, hurdles, high jump, long jump and triple jump, and in the past year alone has earned eight world masters gold medals and set seven world records, boosting her number of world records into the double digits.
Bortignon was in Montreal recently with her mentor, 93-year-old Olga Kotelko, who’s no slouch on the world masters circuit, either. Kotelko holds 27 track and field world records and her collection of gold medals rivals Michael Phelps.
Both elite athletes are part of a McGill study on successful aging. Lead researchers Tanja Taivassalo and Russ Hepple are welcoming masters athletes from all over the world in an attempt to find out what makes this extremely fit group physiologically and cognitively superior to their age-matched counterparts.
Research into this particular subset of the population is scarce.