London: It’s time again for some number crunching: the oldest, the youngest, the shortest, the tallest…it goes on and on. And London 2012 is going to be no different.
Few will notice a certain Christina Llovera, a sprinter from Andorra, as she settles into her blocks for the preliminary rounds of the women’s 100m at the Olympic Stadium on August 3. But Llovera has a distinctive role among athletes at the London Games.
At 15 years and 306 days (born on October 1, 1996), Llovera will be the youngest of all 2,500 competitors in the athletics programme and also the only person aged under 16 years to compete in the stadium.
Don’t waste too much time looking at her personal best in the distance though. At 12.73 secs, it is highly unlikely that her Olympic journey in the 100m will continue for long. At least not for this edition of the Games.
Turn around to the men’s competitions and you will find Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago who will be the youngest male. Born on September 6, 1995 Cedenio is a member of the national 4x100m relay squad although he usually specialises in the 200m and the 400m with personal best times of 21.23secs and 46.02secs over the two distances this season.
Over to the other end of the age scale now. Ukrainian Oleksandr Dryhol will be the oldest athlete. Born on April 25, 1966, the 46-year-old comes to London as the 12th best on the 2012 world hammer throw list. Of course, he holds the world record for over 45-year-olds with an improved distance of 79.42m.
In the women’s side, 42-year-old Constantina Dita of Romania will be the oldest as she sets out to defend her women’s marathon title. Four years ago she became the oldest marathon champion in Olympic history when she won gold in Beijing in 2008.
The oldest gold medallist in any event in Olympic history is Pat McDonald of the US. He was 42 years and 26 days when he won the 56-pound (25kg) weight throw at Antwerp 1920. The oldest woman to win an Olympic gold is Ellina Zvereva of Belarus. She was 39 years and 316 days when she took the discus title in Sydney 2000.
The youngest gold medallist is Barbara Jones of the US, a sprinter of 15 years and 123 days when she ran the second leg for the USA’s 4x100m relay team in Helsinki 1952. Bob Mathias, also of the US, became the youngest man when he won the first of his two decathlon crowns in London 1948, aged 17 years and 263 days.
The oldest competitor in Olympic athletics was Steng Ayele of Israel, who finished 69th in the 2008 Beijing men’s marathon at 53 years and 116 days. The oldest was also a marathon runner — Lourdes Klitzkie who, at 48 years and 234 days, placed 63rd at Seoul 1988.
And to top it all, two 800m runners have the distinction of being the youngest Olympic athletics competitors: Celestine Ndrin of Ivory Coast ran in the women’s 800m at Montreal 1976, aged 13 years and three days, and Vahram Papazian of Turkey was the youngest man when he competed at the 1906 Athens Olympics, aged 13 years and 256 days.