Olga Kotelko of Canada celebrated her 91st birthday in style on Tuesday — by winning two gold medals at the 2010 WMA World Masters Indoor Athletics Championships.
Kotelko, who hails from West Vancouver, B.C., threw 12.99 metres in the women’s 90 age group of the Discus competition. She is the oldest female competitor at these championships, and had no one to contest her. Her distance fell short of the WMA record for the age group of 13.92m — Kotelko’s own mark, set at the WMA Outdoor Championships in Lahti, Finland, in August.
Kotelko did, however, set a new WMA standard in the 60m Dash when she crossed the line in 15.14 seconds, shattering the old mark of 31.20 held by Grace Foster of the United States. Kotelko will be competing in 11 events in Kamloops; she opened the championships with a gold medal in Javelin on Monday. She won 11 golds and set eight world records in Lahti.
As competition wound down Tuesday, and with just the M80 Pentathlon’s High Jump event still ongoing late in the evening, the United States and Canada were tied with 71 medals apiece. The Americans led the gold medal count with 30, and added 25 silver and 16 bronze. The Canadians, meanwhile, had 24 gold, 25 silver and 22 bronze.
Christopher Bates of the United States set a world record Tuesday in the M45 Indoor Pentathlon. Bates scored 4,110 points to win gold, bettering the old WMA standard of 4,062 held by Jean-Luc Duez of France.
A small correction from Day 1: American Aaron Thigpen tied the WMA record for the M45 60m Dash when he ran 7.02 seconds in the semifinal. Thigpen now shares that record with fellow American Stan Whitley.
Incorrect information in the results system had the record as 7.08. As a result, it was reported that Thigpen had twice broken the record — once in the preliminaries, when he ran 7.05, and then again in the semifinals when he ran 7.02.
On Tuesday, Thigpen won the 60m final with a time of 7.10.
While records are certainly celebrated, they aren’t the be-all, end-all in Masters Athletics.
Take, for instance, the father-and-daughter tandem of Bill Falconer and Tatiana Little of the host city Kamloops.
Little is a longtime coach at the Kamloops Track and Field Club — she and husband Norm helped guide a team of Masters athletes prior to these championships. Little competed Tuesday in the W35 Discus, finishing fifth with a throw of 27.01m.
She was more proud, though, that her dad won a pair of medals Tuesday, bringing his meet total to three thus far. Falconer won a silver medal with a throw of 13.31m in the M85 Hammer Throw. Paul Nobbe of Germany won the gold with a heave of 26.46m. Falconer then took bronze in the M85 60m Dash, crossing the line in 15.25. The winner was Horst Albrecht of Germany, who ran 11.16. Falconer also claimed gold Monday in the M85 Discus.
And then there’s Ralph Bergland of Moose Jaw, Sask., the only blind athlete at these championships. Accompanied by his guide, 16-year-old Cody Welscher of Moose Jaw, Bergland, 84, finished fifth in his heat in the M80 60m dash with a time of 17.11 seconds. On Monday, Bergland won a bronze medal in the M80 Discus, and he is still to compete in Shot Put and Javelin.
Bergland was born with the genetic eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, and by the time he was 35 he was completely blind. It didn’t stop him, though. Bergland took up track and field, and went on to win bronze medals in the 100 Metres and Shot Put in the M75 division at the 2005 World Masters Games in Edmonton. He also is a five-time Canadian power-lifting champion.
He decided not to allow his lack of vision to impair him in 1949, after breaking a leg and spending more than two months in hospital.
“You know, when there’s other people lying around with broken bones and broken hips and broken this and that, I began to think, hey, life is not so bad after all,” Bergland says. “So I said, ‘Forget my disability. I’m gonna lick ya!’ And I went out and did my thing.”