John Whittemore

John Whittemore (November 20, 1899 April 13, 2005) was an American centenarian from Montecito, California, who was previously credited as being the "world's oldest athlete" (held until June 28 2015, before being surpassed by Stanislaw Kowalski)[1] A long time Masters Track athlete,[2] his last competition was on October 5, 2004, just six weeks before his 105th birthday.[3] He threw the javelin and discus on that occasion in the Club West Masters Meet held at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

John Whittemore
John Whittemore after throwing the shot put at age 104 in the Santa Barbara Easter Relays, at Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, California.
Personal information
Born(1899-11-20)November 20, 1899
Montecito, California, United States
DiedApril 13, 2005(2005-04-13) (aged 105)
EducationSanta Barbara High School, Stanford University
OccupationTrack and Field Masters Athlete
Country USA
SportJavelin - Discus
Event(s)University of California, Santa Barbara Club West Master meet o October 5, 2004, competing at 104 years Whittlemore was then the worlds oldest athlete


Whittemore said of his unique position in the athletic world "If I don't drop it on my foot, I set a world record." Had he competed after his birthday it would have necessitated a new age division in a sport divided by five-year age groups, a situation Whittemore continued to train for. When Whittemore threw the shot put, earlier in March 28, 2004 at the Santa Barbara Easter Relays,[4] (at age 104 years, 4 months), it was covered on Good Morning America on March 29, 2004.

The only other reported instance of a 104-year-old participating in athletic events was Norwegian skier Herman "Jackrabbit" Smith-Johannsen, reported in 1979[5] and that was not in an organized event. The next active claimant to the title was Australian Ruth Frith, who competed in throwing events at the 2009 World Masters Games in Sydney.[6] She was still active when celebrating her 104th birthday in August 2013,[7] however she died in March 2014.[8] Everett Hosack, who Jay Leno announced as the "world's oldest athlete" at the time, famously participated in the Penn Relays and USATF National Indoor Championships at age 101.[9] On June 28, 2015, Stanisław Kowalski became the first athlete to compete in the M105 category.

Whittemore attended Santa Barbara High School, where he was a long and triple jumper, and graduated in 1917. He often described riding to high school on horseback. Later he attended Stanford University, where he played baseball and was an outstanding tennis player.[10] He spent several decades competing for the Club West Track Club, which named an annual award for him.[11]


List of centenarian masters track and field athletes


  1. article
  2. Trivia Library reference
  3. Obituary
  4. National Masters News, May 2004, Page 9. Retrieved Feb 8, 2021
  5. William Oscar Johnson (1979-12-10). "The Old Man And The Ski". Retrieved 2011-04-02.
  6. "Growing Bolder". Growing Bolder. 2009-09-25. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2011-04-02.
  7. "104-year-old Ruth Frith keeps riding - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 2013-08-23. Retrieved 2014-03-12.
  8. Kim Stephens (2013-10-18). "Masters athlete Ruth Frith dies aged 104". Retrieved 2014-03-12.
  9. "USATF NE 2002". Retrieved 2011-04-02.
  10. bridgeguys reprint of L.A. Times article
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-06-16. Retrieved 2009-12-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Club West Awards list