100-meter world record set at Louisiana Senior Games: “I wanted to do it at home”
Move over, William Shatner. Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins has gone where no woman has ever gone before as the first female track and field athlete, and the first American, to set a track and field world record and establish a 105+ age category.
Star Trek, meet Track Star.
Also known as “The Flower Lady” for her gardening skills, Hawkins wore a signature flower in her hair as she briskly stepped to a 100-meter time of 1:02:95 today before a cheering section of family, friends, and other athletes at the 2021 Louisiana Senior Games (LSG) competition at the Southeastern Louisiana University Track Complex in Hammond. LSG serves as the bayou state’s qualifying event for the biennial National Senior Games.
“It was wonderful to see so many family members and friends. But I wanted to do it in less than a minute,” she said after the race to a throng of media and fans. A well-wisher pointed out that 102 is less than her age of 105. When asked if that made her feel better, Hawkins flatly replied, “No.”
The retired educator captured the attention of the world in 2017 when she set the 10O-meter world record for 100-104 age level with a time of 39:62 at the National Senior Games in Birmingham. She also set the 100+ mark for the 50-meter distance at 18:31. She ran the same races two years later at the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with times that did not eclipse her younger performance. Still, the “Hurricane” created another international media storm.
In September, Hawkins’ 100-meter record was broken by centenarian Diane Friedman of Ohio at the Michigan Senior Olympics. Her response was to seek higher ground with the new age category. The only other track and field athletes to reach the 105+ age mark have been males – Japanese shot putter Hidekichi Miyazaki and Polish runner and discus hurler Stanisław Kowalski.
Coincidentally, the 2021 track event was held less than ten miles from Julia’s childhood home in Ponchatoula, where she later taught middle school. Yet another coincidence is that Hawkins also trained other teachers in the Education Department at SLU for a time before moving to Baton Rouge where she resides today.
“She couldn’t have written her story any better,” said Marc T. Riker, CEO of the National Senior Games Association (NSGA). “Julia realized early that her accomplishments had put her on a big stage to share a message, and she has embraced it as an amazing ambassador for healthy, active aging.”
Hawkins, a lifelong bike rider, has previous National Senior Games history competing in cycling time trials beginning at the age of 80. She won several gold medals over the span of four Nationals before she lost interest, saying “There wasn’t anyone left my age to compete with!” Turning 100 inspired her to take up running and set a record in the 100-meter race. Her focus now is to compete against herself for best time on the track, and to be an ambassador for healthy, active aging in daily life.
“I love to run, and I love being an inspiration to others,” she told the gathering of media. “I want to keep running as long as I can. My message to others is that you have to stay active if you want to be healthy and happy as you age.”
Hawkins said she is considering competing at the 2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana, which takes place May 10-23 next year in Greater Fort Lauderdale. “She has time to decide, and we aren’t pressing for an answer,” NSGA Media Director Del Moon said. “As usual, Julia Hawkins calls her own shots and will wait for the right time to decide if and how her track career will go on.”
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