People who have lived fairly long lives and are now retired or in a state of semi-retirement (you can’t keep a good dog down…especially in an age of pension insecurity) and are generally interested in living out their golden years reminiscing about the good ol’ days… when they broke world records in their sleep and would wrestle manbearpigs in their spare time to keep their skills from getting too rusty. Their best years are generally behind them and they’re usually content with their state of being.
But sometimes that isn’t the case. Sometimes for some of them, they are not interested in just sitting in an old folks home or lounging about in the house that they spent 25 or 30 years paying for. Their best years are now, not behind them. They are still pushing themselves to the limit and still trying to reach new heights, and some of them end up breaking world records, either for simply being remarkable enough to have continued doing what they were doing at their age (which is no small feat), or having done something that is amazing to have been able to achieve, period.
We’re going to look at the remarkable group of older people who have managed to achieve in their advanced years what most people will not be able to do at the height of their physical prime. Here are 15 world records held by the elderly.
15. Yuichiro Miura: Oldest Mount Everest Climber
Before Yuichiro Miura climbed Mount Everest at the tender young age of 80, he was a fan of the much milder sport of extreme skiing. But on May 23rd, 2013, he decided that extreme skiing was not for him. After all, he had a serious heart condition, and with a serious heart condition that resulted in his fourth heart operation since 2007, there is nothing better than to climb the highest summit and breath in the thinnest air that you can have on the planet! Smart move!
But seriously, that only makes what he did more remarkable. Given just how dangerous the final climb is on Mount Everest, a place where no rescue operation can happen; they can’t even get your dead body off for a decent burial if you’re high up enough. No joke. If you go past a certain point, you WILL see the dead bodies of those that didn’t make the climb before you. None of this stopped Yuichiro, not by a long shot.
14. Daphne Selfe: Became a top model…at 70
The stereotype of super models is that they’re generally young, have massive egos and are anorexic or at least have some kind of eating disorder. Daphne Selfe was none of those things. She is an 84 year old woman who has been walking the runway ever since the 1950s. She openly said that she was nothing special to begin with, though I would say the most remarkable thing about her is the patience she had with her career. She did not become a top model until she was 70 years old.
13. Fauja Singh: Finished a Marathon at 101
When it comes to old age, you can’t get any older than 101 years old. At that age, you normally expect to be content with sitting down, relaxing, enjoying the last few years you have in your life and reminiscing about your long life. But for Fauja Singh, that wasn’t enough. He was still too young to be sitting around. So instead of going about walking at a casual pace without a walker, he decided to run a full 10 km marathon. His last marathon was in Hong Kong, but it wasn’t his only one. He actually has been a marathoner ever since he turned 89. He did it as a way of coping with the fact that he lost a wife and child and had little else to give him meaning. So he went full Forest Gump and decided to just run as far and fast as he could.
12. Tamae Watanabe: Oldest woman to climb Mount Everest
We’ve already seen the oldest male Mount Everest climber. He was Japanese, as you’ve noted from his name, but where there is a successful man, there is a powerful woman behind him, or so goes the old saying. Well it doesn’t quite apply in this situation, but the really fascinating thing is that Tamae Watanabe, the oldest female Mount Everest climber, was also Japanese. I’m not sure exactly why, but maybe they’re related or something.
At any rate, not only did Tamae break the world record of the oldest female Mount Everest climber, but she did it TWIC. At the age of 63, she became the oldest woman to reach the summit. But that is not enough for her. 10 years later at the age of 73, she decided to return to Mount Everest to do one more Rocky impersonation at the very top. Way to go, girl.
11. Pinetop Perkins: Oldest Grammy winner
With a name like Pinetop Perkins, the only career option he could have is either a big time villain of a film noir movie, or a jazz musician in said film noir movie. OK, so the real Pinetop Perkins is neither. He’s a blues musician and he is also the oldest person to have ever won a Grammy for his work. He was 95 years old when he was handed his Grammy, and this probably put one massive smile on his face. His life’s work must have been complete at that point, because one month later, he passed away. He may be resting in peace, but his music lives on.
10. Roger Allsopp: Changed, actually swam, the English Channel
Roger Allsopp has the most British name on this list. It’s appropriate given that he is the oldest man to have ever swum the English Channel. On August 30th, 2011, the 70 year old retiree decided that he really liked to swim, and since the British had a strong maritime tradition and take to the sea… except he forgot to get on a boat, and instead jumped in the water on Shakespeare Beach in Dover and then swam all the way to the bay of Calais in France. He did it in little under 18 hours, which would have been pretty remarkable for a 30 year old, but like we said, this guy was in his 70s and it didn’t stop him one bit. No news on whether or not he decided to swim his way back to England or not.
9. Jeanne Stawiecki: Oldest Woman to climb The Seven Summits
Jeanne is another mountain conquering lady, too. But unlike Tamae, she didn’t just climb Mount Everest, she climbed ALL the mountains. By that I mean she climbed the tallest summits on all the continents of the world by the age of 56. She has the record for the fastest aggregate time for a woman to complete marathons on all continents, too. So she’s quick on the horizontal race AND the vertical race, too. I wonder if any of those statements count as double entendre… nah.
8. Christopher Plummer: Oldest Oscar winner
The Oscars are the most prestigious film awards in the world. Having your movie skimmed over by a bunch of aging white dudes who’re all from one single community in Southern California is a huge honor. But enough railing against the Oscars and their overvalued labels, we’re here to talk about the person with the luck of being the oldest person to have ever been award one of those statues.
In 2012, Christopher Plummer received an award for best supporting actor in the movie Beginners. He was 84 years old at the time. The really cool thing? The Oscars were 86 years old at the time, and Christopher made a note of that when he got his award by remarking, ‘You’re only two years older than me’ to the statue. I wonder if he thought it had a secret microphone or something…
7. Jeanne Socrates: Oldest Woman To Sail Around the World
Sailing around the world has been a dream of humanity ever since it was first achieved by the crew of Magellan. I say the crew because Magellan himself didn’t quite survive the journey. He was killed in an altercation in the Philippines. That being said, sailing isn’t something that is easy, and while there are a lot of old salts out there, most of those old salts generally operate out of large sailing vessels and don’t normally think of sailing around the world as an endeavor that they care to do in their 70s…
But Jeanne Socrates was different. At the age of 70, she went on an eight-month long trip around the world in a sailboat in order to raise money for the Marie Curie Cancer Care program. Did I mention she was a retired teacher and not a sailor? She is the oldest person ever to have ever taken this undertaking. Kudos to her!
6. Jim Arrington: Oldest Bodybuilder
We’ve seen a lot of old athletes on his list, but this one probably has to the most remarkable. Bodybuilding is a sport that requires constant dedication. I mean it isn’t something you do and then drop. That’s impossible. You have to not only continually be working out, but you also need to maintain a fairly strict diet routine on top of that. Jim Arrington is like the new Jack Lalanne. Well, he was alive when Jack was alive and an adult on top of that, but that’s besides the point. At the age of 84 and still active, he is the oldest bodybuilder that’s still in the industry. He doesn’t look too shabby for an 84 year old, too. Though being that old does prevent him from looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
5. Shirley Curry: Grandma Videogamer
So video games are a relatively new medium. They burst into the scene in the 1970s with games like Pong and Space War, and while the game industry has had its ups and downs, gaming as a whole, and gamers in general are a very young crowd. The typical gamer nowadays is in their 30s and likely remembers the later 8-bit era and the 16 bit era. With some of the older crowd remembering the golden age of arcade games in the early ’80s with the likes of Pacman, Donkey Kong, and Galaga, they would be in their 40s at the most.
Which makes Shirley all the more remarkable. She isn’t just someone who likes to play video games, but she is a professional gamer on Youtube and has quite a gathering of subscribers – over a quarter million in fact. At the age of 81, that is even more remarkable. I’ve known some older games as a young kid, including a 40-something man back in 1988 who bought multiple computers just for gaming, but even if he were still alive (and sadly he isn’t) he wouldn’t compare to Shirely in the sheer scope of what she’s doing.
4. Ken Bald: Comic Book Artist older than Stan Lee
Stan Lee is a comic book legend. Born in 1923 and still kicking, he was there in the earliest days of comics in the 1930s and worked with Jack Kirby, the man who created almost all the comic book heroes and villains that we all know and love. Needless to say that this guy is probably the oldest person still active in the comics industry, except he isn’t. The honor of that position goes to Ken Bald, a man who, in 2015, became the oldest person ever to illustrate a comic book cover at the age of 95. Mr. Lee was 92 years old at the time, but I don’t think he’s sore over it, given that his wealth is likely on par with the late Hugh Hefner, but with none of the reputation of Mr. Hefner.
3. Johanna Quaas: Cartwheels at 86!
Gymnastics is a very physically demanding sport. While there are some older people who still do gymnastics as a means of keeping fit, they are not at the same level as younger, more professional gymnasts. Except Johanna Quaas obviously didn’t get that memo, since in 2012, at the age of 86, she broke the world record for oldest professional gymnast when she performed some floor-and-beam routines on a German TV show, where she regularly performs in her home town – and still does to this very day, 5 years later. An amazing display of physical prowess for someone who is normally associated with baking brownies for great-grandchildren at that age.
2. Charles and Charlotte: Oldest tattooed couple
So this one is a little different. It’s not a matter of some people doing rather spectacular feats of physical prowess and achievement, but it is remarkable nonetheless, and I’m going to explain why. Tattooing is something that normally requires supple skin to perform easily. Older people’s skin is less than supple and pliable than younger people and as such, when an older person comes in to have a tattoo done (and it happens far more often than you think) they tend to give tattoo artists a bit of a headache.
I cannot imagine, however, the headache that the tattoo artists who worked on Charles and Charlotte, two life-partners, must have had. This couple began their tattoo journey in 2006 with a simple tattoo of a butterfly, but then they decided that more was needed… and within a few years and 1000 hours of tattooing down, they both have over 97.5% of ALL their body covered with tattoos of some kind. At the ages of 75 and 65 respectively, that is quite astounding that they opted to do something like that so late in life.
1. Sarah Jones: Oldest Salsa dancer
If being a gymnast is hard, being an acrobatic salsa dancer must be even harder. Dancing is one of the most strenuous exercises out there (but yes, I am aware that there is such a thing as a fat dancer) and one thing that old people tend not to have is that level of stamina required for acrobatic, highly mobile dancing. Old people do dance, but it’s usually a whole lot slower than salsa, which is famously known for its highly energetic mode of movement.
And yet for Sarah Padding Jones, born 1934, this was just nothing, as testified by the fact that she managed to win first prize in a dance competition on Spanish television in 2009. Whether it’s genetics, a lot of effort put in, or a combination of both, it seems that even at a very advanced aged, people are still capable of some pretty amazing feats.
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