Ida Keeling will celebrate her 101st birthday this month. On Saturday she celebrated something else -- a world record in the 100-meter dash.
Keeling power walked the event in the masters mixed 80-and-older division at the Penn Relays. Although she finished last in the race, Keeling’s time of 1 minute, 17.33 seconds is the best ever recorded for anyone who’s been around for a century or more.
“It was wonderful,” an admittedly exhausted Keeling said of a performance that had a Franklin Field crowd of 44,469 on its feet. “I’m very happy to offer all of this crowd a nice example of what you can do for yourself, and I thank God every day for my blessings.”
Keeling, who grew up in Harlem, also holds the American record for women 95-99 years old in the 60-meter dash (29.86). She started running at age 67 when her daughter, Shelley Keeling, now 64 and a former track and field coach, signed her up for a race.
Shelley Keeling said her mother might be done with racing now.
“I’d rather she leave on a high note,” she said, hinting at new fields to conquer. “She’s quite strong, and there’s no records in any of the powerlifting, bench, squat and deadlift.”
Ida Keeling demonstrated that strength after the race by doing several push-ups in front of the crowd.
“I just keep going,” she said. “Your strength is in you.”
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