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Italy's age-defying sprinter shatters world record at 90 years old

A California woman roared at an approaching brown bear and two cubs after bumbing into the trio along a narrow hiking trail in the mountains. (Credit: @_lauragold via Storyful)

With the oldest population in the European Union, where one in four are aged over 65, it's little surprise that Italy is home to the world's fastest 90-year-old woman sprinter.

Emma Maria Mazzenga claimed another world record in the 90 and over age group this month when she ran the 200 meters outdoors in 51.47 seconds.

Born on Aug. 1, 1933, Mazzenga is one of the unsung stars of Italian athletics, currently holding five world records, nine European records and 28 best Italian performances in various categories of Masters sprinting - competitive races for older runners organized by age group.


"I am very happy and satisfied, and also a bit surprised because I didn't think I went that fast," Mazzenga said modestly after her record-breaking run on May 5, beating the previous record of 53.35 seconds set by Japan's Emiko Saito in 2022.

Italian master runner Emma Maria Mazzenga, 90, is seen sprinting during a race in San Biagio di Callalta, Treviso, Italy, on May 4, 2024. (REUTERS/Remo Casilli)

The women's 200 meters world record, one of the oldest athletics records on the books, was set by the late American athlete Florence Griffith Joyner with a time of 21.34 seconds in 1988. She was 28 at the time.

The World Masters Athletics record for the women's 50 and over category is 24.33 seconds, held by Jamaican-Slovenian athlete Merlene Ottey, while the record for women 70 and over is 31.30 seconds, held by Ingrid Meier of Germany. There is even a record for women aged 100 and over of 1