The Seniors Games is becoming a venue for world-class athletes as Canadian records fell Thursday at Haley Park.
After Myrtle Acton broke records in the shot put and weight throw, West Vancouver runner Chirsta Bortignon smashed a Canadian record in the 100-metre sprint, 70+ group, cruising to victory in a time of 15.86 seconds.
“It was a really good track, I got a good start, but as my coach always tells me, I have lazy arms,” she said.
Bortignon, has only been training for two years but has accumulated 38-medals in addition to a gold in the World Masters Track Championship last month in the U.S. She also picked up silver medals in the 100-metre sprint and the heptathlon.
The previous 100-metre Canadian track record was 16.85 seconds.
“It’s almost a second which is a big deal over 100-metres. I don’t think any Canadian woman in my age has done it.”
Bortignon started training last year with Vancouver track coach Harold Marioka and has since seen dramatic improvement.
She currently holds 14 Canadian track records, setting 13 of them this year.
Something only surpassed by friend Olga Kotelko, she said.
Bortignon refers to 92-year-old Olga Kotelko of West Vancouver, a human wonder and prolific athlete who has competed in almost every seniors games and holds records in virtually every event she enters, which is almost all of them.
When Bortignon suffered an injury playing tennis, Kotelko persuaded her to take up track and field.
“I got arthritis in my wrists, I’m 74 now, but I thought, ‘I don’t want to sit around and do nothing,’ so I called Olga and she said, ‘I’ll be at the track in half an hour.”
Bortignon never expected to be so successful in such a short period of time but her involvement has rocketed her to number five in the world rankings among heptathletes. At next year’s Games, she’ll be even more of a threat when she moves up to the 75+ category.
“If I can run that time next year, I think I can break the world record – I just have to stay healthy.”
She is also competing in the 400-metre and 800-metre runs, the high jump, long jump and triple jump.