Vermont great-grandmother sets 15 track-and-field records

(Image from Humana Inc. blog)
(Image from Humana Inc. blog)

Flo Meiler of Shelburne, Vermont, took up track and field at the age of 60.

Now 79, the great-grandmother of two has 15 world records and 12 U.S. records to her name.

Meiler recently spoke with CNN about how she discovered her love of track and field:

"I was playing tennis — singles, doubles and mixed doubles with my husband — for the senior Olympics, and my training partner now, Barbara Jordan, came over and said, 'We need people in track and field desperately, and I think you would be good at it.' And I said, 'Well, don't look at me, I've never done track in my life.' She said, 'When you're done your tennis, come over and try the long jump.' So that's what I did…and I fell in love with it immediately."

A year later, Meiler placed fourth in a long jump competition, and tied for third in the high jump.

"So that got me going. And my training partner is a real go-getter and very hard worker. We both have broken all kinds of U.S. and world records. We challenge each other — but if one wins, gets a better score, it's fine. We're always in agreement, and we're always good friends," she told CNN.

At the age of 65, Meiler took up the pole vault, too.

In 2011, Meiler set the world indoor record in the pole vault for women over the age of 75 — she vaulted 63-1/4" in the event she calls her favourite — and the world records for the 60-metre hurls and the 4x100 metre relay. She has other records in the 200-metre hurdles, the steeplechase, the discus, and the hammer throw.

"I'm in the best shape I've ever been," Meiler, who trains five days a week, told WCAX.

"I think the body is a lot more resilient than people think," Meiler's training partner, Barbara Jordan, added. "People can still get better as they age."

Meiler is currently in Cleveland, ready to compete alongside 10,000 other seniors at the 2013 National Senior Games. It's her twelfth time competing at the Olympic-style event.

She hopes her athletic feats encourage other seniors to embrace active lifestyles:

"I keep telling them that it's never too late. If I can take up track and field at 60, anybody can take up another sport at age 50 and up. I recommend anyone who really looks at wanting to be healthy, they have to get going, get off the couch."

"One of the recommendations I have been mentioning is go to their senior centre. My friends go for yoga, and there are a lot of other things they offer. If they really want to improve or do something more athletic, the centre will have the resources to help them find what they should do and how safe it can be," she said.

Meiler has no intentions of giving up track and field — ever.

"I'll be competing forever, as long as the good Lord gives me my health, probably until 100," she told WCAX.