Nonagenarian to compete at Van Ryswyk meet
Olga Kotelko picked up the phone for an interview with KTW after her morning aquafit class.
There would be nothing remarkable about that sentence if it were not for the West Vancouver resident’s age — 92.
Aquafit is not the only activity the elderly athlete enjoys. In fact, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Kotelko, who turns 93 in March, will be in Kamloops for the Alwilda Van Ryswyk Invitational Track Meet, which gets underway on Friday, Feb. 17, and wraps up on Sunday, Feb. 19.
All of the meet’s events will be held at the Tournament Capital Centre.
Many Kamloops residents will remember Kotelko from the World Masters Indoor Championships in 2010.
Kotelko — who holds more than 20 track-and-field world records, 17 of them in her current age category, 90 to 95 — wowed crowds with her athletic ability.
A quick Google search will reveal her fame, with results ranging from various TV news stories to a lengthy New York Times article.
“I had no idea I was going to come up against this,” said Kotelko, who did not take up track and field until she was 77.
“It was getting annoying to a point where I was swamped with interview calls and TV and newspaper requests, but it’s settled down a bit now.”
There are not too many people who get the chance to see Kotelko in action, even fewer now that she has cut back on the amount of events she attends in a year.
“In my age group, I don’t have any competition and I have quite a few world records already,” said Kotelko, who was a schoolteacher in Burnaby for almost 30 years.
“I know that I will not be breaking those records now, so that’s why I’ve cut back.”
She competes in about five track-and-field events per year.
The 92-year-old athlete will be taking a Greyhound bus to Kamloops from Vancouver on Friday, competing in at least six events over the weekend, and catching a ride back to the Lower Mainland on Sunday.
On Friday at 7 p.m., Kotelko will participate in the weight throw.
Kotelko will compete in the 60-metre dash heats at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. The finals for that event are scheduled for 11:45 a.m.
She might take part in the 400-metre, but that will depend on how she feels. The 400-metre races get underway at 2 p.m.
Kotelko will also compete in the masters high jump, which gets underway at 3:30 p.m. and the triple jump, which begins at 5:30 p.m.
On Sunday, Kotelko will compete in the long jump at 9 a.m., the 200-metre at 11:30 a.m. and the shot put at 2 p.m.
She might not be able to break any of her own records this weekend, but it will be awe-inspiring to see her try.
Van Ryswyk info
The action begins on Friday at 5 p.m., with the last events getting underway at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, the earliest event starts at 8 a.m., with the last event scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. start.
On Sunday, the action starts at 8 a.m., with the last event scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
The Van Ryswyk Invitational will feature track-and-field athletes ages nine and over.