99-year-old sets sprint record at Gay Games

Great-great-grandmother becomes first in her age class to run race

A 99-year-old woman set a 100m sprint record at the Gay Games this week, becoming the first person woman in her age category to go the distance in an internationally-certified race.

Ida Keeling, from New York, completed the race in 59.8 seconds at the ninth Gay Games, which were held in Ohio last week.

“I’m running from old age and arthritis,” Keeling told the local Akron Beacon Journal before the race. “Believe me!”

Keeling came last in the race, but finished to a huge cheer from spectators. USA Track & Field, which represents US athletes and tracks spring records, does not yet have an entry for any group older than 90-94.

Ida has set records when she ran a 60m race in 2011, when she was 95, and again two years later.

Keeling took up running when she was 67, in part as refuge from the sadness of losing her two sons in separate drug-related killings. She started the sport at the urging of her daughter, Shelley Keeling, who is now her coach.

Ida and Shelley had also planned to run a 400m relay earlier in the week, but opted not to after bad weather left the track wet.

The Gay Games were held between August 9 and August 16, and saw around 10,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes from more than 60 countries compete in Cleveland and Akron, in Ohio.

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