“Age is just a number” might be one of the most overused phrases, but every so often, someone comes around to remind you that it’s true.
Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins recently accomplished what most 105-year-olds couldn’t. On November 7, the centenarian became the first female track and field athlete and first American to set a world record in the 100-meter dash for the 105+ division.
Her record-breaking dash happened at the 2021 Louisiana Senior Games competition. With a fresh flower tucked behind her ear, loved ones cheered her on from the sidelines as the track star completed the 100 meters within 1:02:95.
For Hawkins, one should have more passions the older they get. And keeping herself active is one of hers.
“I keep thinking, ‘Why am I left here?’ Why haven’t I been called by now?’” she told USA Today. “People say that they want to be just like me when they grow up… And I think if I can please people and give them hope, then it’s worth living longer.”
The Louisiana native began competing in sprints at the age of 100. She biked for about eight to 10 years prior. When she quit, her children registered her for running. She chose the 100-meter dash.
“When I started running, I found it was a pleasure. I enjoyed doing it. So it was a new challenge, and I took to it like a duck to water,” she said. “I felt that would be a neat challenge to run the 100 [meter] dash, at 100, in under a minute.”
And that’s exactly what she did.
Hawkins isn’t new to breaking race records. In 2017, the retired educator set a world record after running 100 meters in a little over 39 seconds at the National Senior Games, the fastest in her 100 to 104 age group. That record was overtaken by 100-year-old Diane Friedman in September.
In 2019’s Games, she finished the 100-meter dash in a still-outstanding 46.07 seconds.
Hawkins doesn’t run every day anymore but remains very active. Every day, she would walk or jog about a mile or two. To practice her sprints, she will sometimes do a 50-meter dash.
The recently concluded race was extra special because it was held less than 10 miles from her childhood home in Ponchatoula, where she later taught middle school. Hawkins said she “felt right at home.” In a touching show of support, some of her students watched the race to cheer her on.
Hawkins also gets incredible support from her family, including her four children and her late husband of 70 years, who passed away at 96. She says she thinks of him as a “little angel” watching over her.
Outside the field, Hawkins is known as “The Flower Lady” for her passion and skills in gardening. She tends to a beautiful home garden abundant in flowers and bonsai trees. She almost always wears a flower behind her ear, whether she’s running or not, a habit she adopted when she was in college.
The Louisiana Senior Games is the state’s qualifying event for the biennial Senior Games, which will happen in May 2022 in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hawkins will be 106 then. She’s still contemplating whether or not she will join the race.
In a press release, Del Moon, the National Senior Games Association Media Director, said they aren’t pressing Hawkins for an answer.
“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,” he said.
After setting her 100-meter record, Hawkins said she loves being able to use her achievement to inspire other people.
“I love to run, and I love being an inspiration to others,” she said. “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.”
Congratulations, Julia Hawkins! We’d surely love to be as active as her when we reach her age! Watch her record-breaking sprint in the video below.
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