A couple of weeks back we received an email from another ageless senior, former sprinter Lou Billinkoff.
Lou didn’t actually start running until he was 89 years old - and after he had suffered a mild heart attack.His doctor recommended that he go through a rehab program at the Reh-Fit Centre.
In an article written by Scott Taylor for us in 2019, Scott explained whar happened next:
“So, while I was doing the different exercises and walking, I reminded myself that when I was younger, I used to run. So, I said to myself, ‘I wonder if I can still do it?’ So, I started running and I enjoyed it. Nobody took any notice of it. I didn’t think anything of it. But one day, my son Errol, timed me and then looked up my age group on the Internet and he said, ‘Do you know, your times are right up there with the top runners in the world?’ I just said, ‘No, it can’t be.’ And he said, ‘You’re one of the best.’
“Billinkoff was now 92 the day Errol’s watch came out for the first time. Since Lou had committed to his program at the Reh-Fit, he had given absolutely no thought to running competitively. In fact, it was the furthest thing from his mind. He was only running to stay alive.
“ ‘I never thought I would do anything in competition,” he said, still a little shocked by his recent celebrity. “Errol insisted that I enter a competition. I didn’t have any idea what it was. I had no idea how you did it. How you entered. I knew nothing about it. But through Athletics Manitoba, I entered a meet and ran the 100 metres in 29.55 seconds.
“It was July 8, 2015, and Billinkoff was entered in the Men’s 90-94 age group 100-metre dash. He was the only runner and yet he set the Canadian age group record for the 100.
“From that point on, he tried to run at least one competitive race a year. In 2016, he ran 100-metres at the Manitoba Provincial Age Group championships in 28.29 and moved up in the rankings to No. 7 in Canada and No. 18 in the World.
“On Dec. 8, 2017, he ran his first Indoor competition at Athletics Manitoba’s Last Chance Meet at the University of Manitoba’s Max Bell Centre. He ran 60 metres in 17.33 seconds.
“Then, in the summer, he turned 95 and ran 100-metres in the 95-99 age category at the Manitoba Age Group Championships in 29.73. He was now ranked No. 2 in the World and No. 2 in Canada.
“On Nov. 10, 2018, he ran a 50-metre dash at a University of Manitoba indoor meet in 14.58 and then, on June 21, he set the Canadian record in the outdoor 50 at the Provincial Age Group championship by running the distance in 15.68.
“I never thought I’d ever have an official athlete’s profile, let alone be ranked in the official World Masters’ rankings,” Billinkoff said, laughing and shaking his head. “It’s unbelievable. In the 50-metre dash this year, I was the only person entered. I’m the only one running in the province at my age. In years past, there have been one or two runners and in the 90-94 age group there are a lot of runners, but now, I run by myself and there aren’t that many runners in the world.”