Merlene Ottey is an awesome athlete and at 50 she will today become the oldest athlete to compete at the European Championships should she be selected to anchor Slovenia's (her adopted country), 4x100m relay team.
She registered on my radar back in 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympics (along with 'Flo Jo'). I remember my dad (a big athletics fan) telling me to 'keep an eye on her' - something I have done for the past 26 years! In that Olympics Otteys grace (and beauty), really made an impact on me. I am guessing dad's 'keeping an eye on her' wasn't similarly restricted to 'athletic interest'!
Ottey's list of achievements is incredible and growing! They include 'first female athlete to run 60 meters under seven seconds', she has run 100m under eleven seconds 67 times, she has 57 consecutive wins in 100m, the most consecutive wins over 100m for a female and 34 consecutive wins at 200m.
She holds World Masters Athletics records in the 100m and 200m for the age groups W35, W40 and W45. More recently on June 7, 2010 (aged 50), she ran the 100 in 11.72 which upon ratification, will be the W50 world record.
Her longevity (thirty years) in track and field has lead to her nickname of "The Queen of the Track". From a humble beginning (running barefoot whilst at Ruseas and Vere Technical high schools), she continues to raise the bar for what we can expect of ourselves in our fifties! She has still go 'it'!