60-Year-Old Woman Defies All Odds
6-Time Winter Olympian Switches to Summer Games
BULL RUN, Va., April 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- For most athletes, qualifying for the next Olympic Games would be a remarkable achievement. In Anne Abernathy's case, it will be another record. When she qualifies for the 2016 Olympic Games, it will be Anne's seventh! She will be 63 years old and the only woman to ever compete in seven combined Winter/Summer Olympic Games. Anne's first six Olympic appearances were in the Winter Games where she competed as a luge athlete. Now Anne is training for the Summer Games in archery—a sport she first picked up while in college at the University of Texas.
Anne was 34 when she made her first Olympic Games appearance—the age most luge athletes are retired. As an elite luge athlete, Anne competed against athletes less than half her age and at the age of 40 while preparing for her third Olympic Games, fellow athletes began affectionately calling Anne "Grandma Luge" in honor of her success in a sport that was believed to be reserved for young athletes. It's a name that Anne embraces.
"We should not have to be limited or defined by our age. Exercise, competition and sports are not just for the youth."
It is that attitude that led Anne to become the first female six-time Winter Olympian and the oldest woman to compete in the Winter Games. And it's that attitude that has led Anne to her latest Olympic-sized decision to seek qualification in Archery for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.
Anne's path to her remarkable record of success has been anything but easy. She has endured decades of grueling training, punishing crashes, dozens of broken bones and surgeries and uncounted hours of rehabilitation. Just before her first Olympic appearance in 1988, Anne was diagnosed and treated for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer that has returned several times during her athletic career. In 2001, Anne suffered a severe brain injury in a luge accident while competing in a World Cup race in Germany. She was able to make a full recovery from this injury using a unique therapy that was featured on the Discovery Health Channel series Impact: Stories of Survival.
A woman of extraordinary courage, Anne is once again defying all odds. When asked why she would want to take on such challenging training and international-tournament schedule at a time when most people are slowing down and considering retirement, Anne simply says, "Why not? This is something that I love doing. Plus, I know how to get to the Olympics. I've found that getting older is not limiting but liberating."
Elizabeth Bunten The Visibility Company, 6153776116, EBunten@TheVisibilityCompany.com
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