Ida Keeling: 99-year-old record-breaking sprinter steals the show in the 100 meters at Gay Games

AKRON, OH - Standing among a sea of sprinters, Ida Keeling captivated the crowd at Lee Jackson Field on the campus of the University of Akron.

Her bright yellow Nike running shoes grabbed the attention of spectators, but it was her age that had people truly buzzing.

Keeling, 99, is a great great-grandmother who stands four feet, six inches tall and weighs 83 pounds. On Tuesday afternoon, she raced in the 100-meter event of the Gay Games.

"My doctor told me two years straight I'm as healthy as a healthy 20-year-old. Hooray!" Keeling said prior to her race.

Her coach and daughter, Shelley Kelling, reminded Ida to stay in her lane and focus on the finish line.

When the starter fired his pistol, the crowd immediately began cheering for the senior citizen from New York City and the clapping and whistling didn't stop until she finished, with a time of 59.80 seconds. She came in last place, but that didn't matter to anyone, including Ida.

"I feel I'm still a winner," she said.

Shelley Kelling said no woman at her mother's age has ever recorded a faster time in an internationally certified 100-meter race.

"She does not only inspire people that are young or that are out here. It's a message that you can do this at any age," Shelley added.

Ida started running at the age of 67 to help her deal with the profound grief over the deaths of her two sons, who were murdered within three years of each other in New York.

Shelley, also a suburb athlete who competed in the Gay Games, said she signed her mom up for a 5K race more than four decades ago and Ida has been hooked on exercise ever since.

"If you push her down, she is going to get back up," Shelley said.

Ida will turn 100 in May and hopes to set a new record in a new age group in 2015.

"If I can or if I feel up to it... the pace gets lower as you get older because you get tired quicker," she said.

Aside from arthritis, she has no health concerns and she's quick to offer inspiring advice for others.

"Eat for nutrition, not for taste. Do what you need to do, not what you want to do and don't leave out your daily exercise. Love yourself."

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