Athletics: Pauline's still going strong at 90

By Kiri Gillespie


Achieving a gold medal is often the goal for most athletes but few 90-year-old Tauranga pensioners can lay claim to receiving six in one go.

Pauline Purser won gold six times over for her efforts in field events at this year's Pan Pacific Masters Games on Australia's Gold Coast.

The senior citizen is a dab hand at field events and competed - and received a gold medal each for - the hammer, discus, javelin, shot put, weight throw and weight pentathlon.

The hammer was her favourite.

"I started throwing things when I was 70. I've been throwing ever since," she said.

"I usually do the whole six events. We go to Australia quite often to compete. Being 90 now, there's no competition here. Not much at all."

The last time they went to Australia, there was no competition for Ms Purser because there were no other 90-year-olds at the games.

She is a member of the New Zealand Veteran Athletes.

The lively pensioner became involved in field sports after retiring from competitive ballroom dancing at 84 and having a friend who competed in the games.

Ms Purser no longer runs, after receiving artificial hip replacements on each side of her pelvis, but competing in the games with the six field events caused her no trouble, she said.

"You don't throw with your hips."

There are, however, some adjustments to cater for older competitors' limitations. Ms Purser did not run or spin to gain the momentum usually needed for the field events.

She said she understood her personal best was throwing the hammer 12 metres. She has competed in so many events and games over the years, she said she was not sure any more of the finer details of her results.

The many medals that weigh heavily on a hat stand at Ms Purser's Bethlehem home were evidence enough of her achievements, she said.

The medals include five golds from the New Zealand Masters Games in 2011.

Ms Purser said she believed the sports helped keep her young. It did not matter how good someone was at something, so long as they enjoyed it. "I just love the hammer. I don't want to be sitting doing nothing," she said.

Ms Purser only wished she had more opportunity to practise in Tauranga.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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