The World’s Oldest Gymnast Is 90 and Still Going Strong
Gymnastics is one of the toughest sports to master where strength and flexibility is taught from a very young age. As good as it makes you look, the sport is not very kind to the body. Most gymnasts retire young – in their late teens and early twenties due to injuries. Olympian Carly Patterson, who competed in Athens in 2004, was the first American woman to win the all-around gold since Mary Lou Retton. Patterson was 16 when she competed at the Olympics and 18 years old when she retired from the from the sport because of back problems.
Meet 90-year-old Johanna Quaas, who began studying gymnastics as a youngster and is still powering on – defying her age and the odds that her body may give out on her will and determination. It’s no wonder she made history in 2013 as the Guinness Book of World Records bestowed her with the honor at the tender age of 87 as the “World’s Oldest Gymnast.”
The 11-time German senior champion of artistic gymnastics from Halle, Germany became popular in 2012 when YouTube clips showed her training at age 86 during the Turnier der Meister in Cottbus. Here she is on the parallel bars going through her routine to cheers, applause and ‘oohs’ of amazement from the crowd.
Three years later, she is still being celebrated. Game On posted a video taken by Rolling Shutter, a German film production company, of Quaas doing parallel bar and floor exercises. Her agility is more that of a 9-year-old’s as she can be seen in the video effortlessly swinging into a perfectly upright handstand on the bars, doing a cartwheel, and a forward tucked roll. Since its post on January 15, it has gone surprisingly viral with 1.1 million views, 5,700 likes and 14,526 shares.
According to the story in the video, Johanna Quaas appeared in her first competition in 1934. She moved with her family to Weißenfels where she had to put her career on hold as gymnastics was banned until 1947. She started training again at 57 and went on to win a regional competition. She hasn’t stopped since.
The video was shared on Facebook’s viral thread, spurring on even more appreciation with 21,000 likes, and over 1 million views.
Perhaps the secret to Quaas’ limber longevity is a healthy life and happy marriage. She’s been married for 50 years to her husband Gerhard, also a gymnastics coach.