The Oldest Professional Athlete Was 104

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oldest professional athlete
John Whittemore competing at 104

Some people are purely inspirational, just like this person. John Whittemore has gone down in the record books as being the oldest professional athlete ever recorded. He set this amazing record when he participated in two track and field events just shy of his 105th birthday.

It’s undoubtedly the dream of all athletes, amateurs and professionals, to set records. While no one actually goes into a sport with the desire for fame and fortune, winning, and setting a new record can be the icing on the cake. But for most athletes, setting a record is something that just wont happen for them. For the majority of John Whittemore’s career, this was the exact scenario. He had fun competing, and maybe even won a few events, but the record books never bared his name, until 2004 when he became the world’s oldest professional athlete.

On October 5, 2004, John Whittemore competed in the javelin and discus events at a local athletics event. He performed the task just six weeks shy of his 105th birthday. These to acts finally saw his name enter into the record books.

If I don’t drop it on my foot, I set a world record.

~John Whittemore just prior to throwing the javelin

Now here is the cool thing. If he had been just six weeks older it would have forced the event organizers to create a new age division. The reason for this is because the age groups were set in groups of five years.

John passed away the following year. But he wasn’t the only person to participate in sporting events at such an advanced age.

In 1979 skier Herman Smith-Johannsen competed in a skiing event, but it wasn’t an organized one. Another claimant was Ruth Frith who competed in the 2009 World Masters Games. In August 2013, at the age of 104, she was still active. She died in March 2014, still leaving John Whittemore’s name unaltered in the record books.


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