Ruth Frith dies at 104; Australian grabbed global attention at WMG

Ruth was an inspiration and friend to many.

WMA President Stan Perkins reports that Ruth Frith, a fellow Aussie who competed as a W100 at the Sydney World Masters Games, has died at age 104. Ruth was a thrower with a tart tongue. In 2009, The Australian profiled her as “Golden girl Ruth Frith, 100, master of shot-put universe.” She holds nine outdoor world-age groups records, starting at W85. She famously declared: “Don’t eat vegetables, because I never eat vegetables. I know people that like diets that will scream at me, (but) don’t eat vegetables. I never have.” One commenter on the Perkins post said: “Won’t ever forget her at Perth 2010, at over 100 years of age, wandering around with her own personal film crew and insisting on pulling her trolley of throwing equipment all by herself. A real role model.” Cause of death has not been disclosed. More details will emerge in coming days. We’ll miss you, Ruth.

Here’s all I know at the moment. Stan’s FB post Saturday:

Sad to learn that yesterday the oldest Masters Athlete in Australia, Ruth Frith, passed away. Ruth was 104 and held many world records during her lifetime in her beloved throws events. She was a woman who had devoted most of her life to the sport of athletics with many years of administration that turned into participation later in her life. We will miss her ‘tell it as it is’ attitude to life. God bless her and thanks for giving her the love of the sport of athletics.

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March 1, 2014

8 Responses

  1. Rob Jerome - March 2, 2014

    Ruth was a total inspiration at the 2009 Sydney World Masters Games where I photographed her as well as her daughter, 2-time Olympian Helen Searle, who encouraged her mother to get into Masters Athletics when Ruth was well along in years.

    When I asked Ruth what advice she had for older people, not just masters athletes, she responded: “Whatever you want to do, just try.”

    My sympathies to Helen and the rest of Ruth’s family.

  2. ventsi - March 3, 2014

    Below are quoted some thoughts from Ruth and comments about her in articles from the past several years (links are given, with full texts and photos)
    Amazing person! Respect! Agree – we’ll miss her!

    104-year-old Ruth Frith keeps riding
    23 Aug 2013
    Ruth Frith, who is still a competing athlete, marks her 104th birthday with a ride on her exercise bike at her home in Brisbane on August 23, 2013.

    Algester 102-year-old athlete at centre of new documentary
    June 16, 2012
    Ruth Frith is a 102-year-old athlete from Algester and one of three centenarians to star in the documentary The 100+ Club.
    “You’re never too old,” she said, “you can always contribute to everything.”
    Mrs Frith came across a hurdle when she was rushed to hospital in February (2012) with cardiovascular problems and had an operation to have a pacemaker installed.

    Galleries: Worlds oldest athlete Ruth Frith turns 102

    Ruth Frith is the world’s oldest competing athlete
    September 05, 2011
    …. the world’s oldest competing athlete, Ms Frith is still a keen field athlete and trains four days a week. “Mondays and Tuesdays I do weights and Wednesdays and Thursdays I’ll train and throw the hammer or the javelin,” she said. “I just love it, I think if you play a sport you have to love it or you’re not going to put your whole life into it.”

    Ruth Frith of Algester hopes she can start athletics training again ahead of her 104th birthday on Friday
    August 21, 2013
    Ruth Frith, believed to be the world’s oldest athlete, turns 104 on Friday. …
    “I’m not a party person,” she said. “I don’t drink, I’ve never had a drink in my life, and I don’t smoke.”
    Mrs Frith was born in Goulburn, New South Wales, on August 23, 1909.
    She showed a talent for athletics at an early age, ¬becoming a champion runner at the local primary and high schools.
    After she was married, she spent most of the time watching from the sidelines as her children excelled in the sport. Her daughter, Helen ¬Searle, was long the sporting champion in the family.
    Through the ’50s and ’60s she competed in two ¬Olympics and three ¬Commonwealth Games.
    But nearly three decades ago, her mum decided it was her turn to have a go, even though she was 74.
    …. “What I can’t alter doesn’t bother me,” she said. “Life goes on no matter what you do and what you say.”

    100 year old Grandmother shot puts her way to Games
    …. I’ve loved athletics since I was at primary school, and that could be the only reason because I don’t believe in diets. I don’t believe in all that jazz.
    ….. I didn’t do anything to be 100. I just grew.
    …… when she’s not training or competing, she speaks to others about why she thinks masters sport is good for everyone.
    RUTH FRITH: If you ever see creaky knees and grey-haired people walking around an Oval or trying to throw, please don’t laugh. Just wave and say “good on you” because they are only fulfilling a dream, a dream they may have had when they were children and could never carry it out, but now they have the chance.

    … her sight is nearly gone….degeneration of your eyes.

    RUTH FRITH: I think all life is just: be true to your own self. If you can’t be true to your own self you can’t be true to anybody. So live your own life your way and don’t be deflected down the wrong path. I just think life is living your own life and living it to the full.

  3. Grant Lamothe - March 4, 2014

    To add to the previous -and well deserved for Ruth-postings, let me submit this.

    I competed in the World Masters Games that took place in Sydney, Australia in October, 2009. My M65 high jump finals happened to simultaneously take place adjacent to the throwing circle where the Women’s 80+ hammer throw was taking place. Included in the women’s participants were Olga Kotenko (who I knew from Vancouver, Canada and had just turned 90) and Ruth who had just turned 100. They happened to be surrounded by two TV filming crews, one from Austraulia and one from the Ukraine. The one from the Ukraine was there to mainly document Olga, who is of Ukrainian heritage.

    Anyway, I was totally blown away watching these ladies, Olga, a ninety-something, and Ruth, a hundred-something, throw the hammer. I mean: they just didn’t just do a half-hearted, half-assed turn and meekly throw it, they both did full multiple turns, generating speed and power while keeping the hammer under control and at a good elevation and releasing it strongly at a good angle! And all their throws went far!

    I honestly have to say, it was one of the most awe-inspiring masters track moments I’ve ever experienced in my 20+years in the sport, as a participant or as a spectator. Watching those old, old ladies throw the hammer altered my perception of the world forever. And I mean that, Olga and Ruth, most respectfully. God bless you Ruth, and I hope to meet you in some throwing circle in the next universe.

  4. Rob Jerome - March 5, 2014

    Grant, I was lucky enough to photograph that Sydney WMG W80+ hammer throw competition you describe in your posting. You are absolutely correct about Ruth’s and Olga’s performances. The concentration and control were awe-inspiring. I am looking at a photo I took of Ruth right now and you’re right…she changed perceptions of what it means to be “old”.

  5. Denise Palmer - March 6, 2014

    I had the pleasure of knowing Ruth not only as a competitor, but also as an official a Sydney Sport Ground. My sincere condolences go to Helen whom I have also known for many years & also to her immediate family.
    She will be sadly missed by all who knew her & competed with her. She certainly lived life to the fullest & athletics was a wonderful passion that , although taking it up later in life, she enjoyed competing with the young & the old alike.
    God Bless you Ruth, you were truly an inspirational person & no doubt has left everyone saying that you are never too old.

  6. Ken Stone - March 12, 2014

    Ten days after my first report, Ruth’s hometown paper reported her passing:

  7. ventsi - March 13, 2014

    Did you read one of the comments below “Brisbane Times” article that Ruth deserved a state funeral, for everything she did in her remarkable life?
    It is nice that a park will be named after her.

  8. Helen Searle - May 27, 2014

    I would like to thank everyone for the kind thoughts
    about Mum. She is sorely missed up here not only
    at athletics but in the bowling (lawn) community.

    Her memories will live on through her Great Great
    Granddaughter who at 9yrs is showing a liking to the

    Once again Thanks to everyone.

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