Meet The 100-Year-Old WW2 Veteran Who Just Smashed The Centenarian 100m World Record - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Meet The 100-Year-Old WW2 Veteran Who Just Smashed The Centenarian 100m World Record

At 100-years-old, Lester Wright is showing no signs of slowing down.

With each passing year, most of us can attest to the fact that our body doesn’t quite move like it used to. Where it used to be the case that we could arrive to school and find ourselves subject to an impromptu beep test, swimming carnival or athletics championship, these days we need months to prepare for such feats, and even longer to recover. Getting out of bed in the morning is a test of willpower, our bones protesting the movement. But while gains in the gym are one thing to admire, perhaps the goal we all share is to keep our bodies moving as best they can as we age. And when it comes to Lester Wright, no-one is quite as inspirational. 

Aged 100-years-old, Wright has an athletic career that spans 80 years on the track. It was in the 1930s that he first began sprinting seriously only to have to put such ambitions on hold as he served in a segregated unit on the beaches of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge under George Patton, during the second World War. By the end of it, he was even promoted to the role of sergeant. When Wright returned to the US following the war, he was already in his 30s but he once again turned his attention to running and has been competing ever since. At 76 years of age, he broke the 200m world record for over 75s. 

Now, it appears Wright is once again in fine form – even at 100. Competing at the Penn Relays – America’s oldest track and field meet – he stormed across the straight to make a finishing time of 26.34 seconds. In doing so, Wright broke Donald Pellmann’s mark of 26.99 set in 2015. Speaking to Fox 29 before the race, Wright said: “If you’re going to go out to run a race, you should really run the race to try to win. I don’t know how you can run to be second or third.”

Following the race, Wright spoke about what it takes to remain at your physical peak well into old age: a strong support unit. According to Wright, his marriage is one that continues to challenge him and push him to be his best self. He and wife Adele have been married for 80 years, running a dental supply business for 40 years in New Jersey while also training together and raising a family that includes great-great grandchildren. 

Though he jokingly admitted to ABC 7 that he doesn’t have a perfect marriage, Wright stressed the importance of finding someone you love but also like – someone whose company you still want to be in even decades into a marriage. “We bowled together, we ran together, we played together, we went to the movies together.”

As for Adele, when asked what she thinks of her husband’s sporting career at 100, she told ABC 7: “It’s up to him. If he wants to do it, that’s what he wants to do.” Asked what advice he’d received from Adele prior to the race, Wright said: “My wife tells me to finish your own race.”

Certainly, Wright is showing no signs of slowing down and he just might be back to compete at the Penn Relays in 2023. If there’s one thing he proves, it’s that it’s never too late to pursue a dream and few things are as important as looking after your health and wellbeing so that you can be moving well even as you age. 

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

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