Young at heart: Meet the sprightly sprinter still breaking records - aged 77

Despite her more senior years, Dorothy McLennan has snatched dozens of gold medals and world records from young competitors since she took up athletics professionally in her 50s.

At the age of 77, most would expect Dorothy McLennan to be enjoying a more sedentary lifestyle.

But the former bank clerk is no ordinary pensioner - as she's also a current heptathlon champion who competes against athletes half her age.

Despite her more senior years,  Dorothy has snatched dozens of gold medals and world records from young competitors since she took up athletics professionally in her 50s.

The world champion pole vaulter, heptathlete and sprinter spends three days a week training for her next world championships, when most her age would prefer to put their feet up.

A double gold medal winner at the World Masters Championships - Olympic standard competitions of athletes aged 35 and over - the sprightly athlete is hoping to smash the record in sprinting at the British Masters Championships at the end of February.

Mrs McLennan, who lives with her husband Ray, said: "People are always very surprised when I tell them I do pole vaulting and sprinting, but I don't see what's so unusual about it.

"I've had a go at the heptathlon, and won gold in my age category twice at the world games - but the hurdles were quite unkind to my hips.

"I took up pole vaulting in 1991, and have been doing it ever since."

Dorothy McLennan mid-air during a pole vault (Alex Rotas/Caters)


Inspired by watching a man in his 80s finish a local marathon, Mrs McLennan hasn't stepped off the track since.

The gold medalist is trained by her son, Stephen, for nine hours a week at Thames Valley Athletics Centre.

She said: "I've given everything a go - I've had the most wonderful time. I've visited countries and cities I would never had the chance to otherwise when I've competed there.

"My family and friends are all very proud of me, they're used to me nipping off to training  and spending my weekends competing.

"Some people might think it's an odd thing for someone in their 70s to be doing, but I'll stick with athletics as long as I can keep going.

"I've been doing yoga for almost 20 years too, which helps keep me fit and supple.

"Nobody is too old to exercise and keep healthy - I'd recommend athletics to anyone."