The fact that she was the only competitor in her category (shot put, women aged 100-104) did not diminish Ruth Frith's achievement. The centenarian great-grandmother was jubilant after setting a new world record with a gold medal-winning throw of 4.07m at the World Masters Games in Sydney.
The oldest female athlete at the games, Ms Frith, 100, said she would not be celebrating "in the modern way", since she neither drinks nor smokes. She also detests vegetables, advising those who wish to achieve her longevity: "Don't eat vegetables, because I never eat vegetables. I never have."
The games are open to people of all abilities, aged over 35. Ms Frith, from Brisbane, trains five days a week, bench-pressing 80lb weights and practising hammer-throw, javelin and shot put. "I just think each year is another year," she said. "You just enjoy each day, and let the years go by."
The games are staged every four years, with the motto "fun, fit, forever young". Some participants cited Ms Frith as their inspiration. "There was a picture of Ruth in our local paper," said Olga Kotelka, a 90-year-old Canadian. "I realised she is still competing and is nine years older than I am, and I thought I have to come and meet Ruth."
Ron Dent, 89, was entered in the 100m, 200m and 300m races. "I had a serious operation years ago and you either give up and die or turn to something like running," he told Sydney's Daily Telegraph. "I turned to running."
There were cheers when Ms Frith broke the record with a throw that rivalled those of competitors decades younger than her. Satisfied, she merely declared: "That's it." After, she admitted: "As long as I didn't fail, I was going to win it." She is hoping to defend her title in four years' time.
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