Olga Kotelko Passes Away

OlgaOlga Koteko, Canada’s premier Master’s athlete passed away on Tuesday. She was breaking multiple World Records after turning 95 earlier this year.

Harold Morioka, her Coach writes;

Canadian Masters Athletics lost our matriarch of Masters track and field.  After suffering a massive cranial hemorrhage three days earlier, Olga Kotelko passed away peacefully in the early hours of June 24th, in the Palliative Care Unit at Lions Gate Hospital.
Olga competed in her first Masters track and field competition at the age of 77.  In 1999, she competed in her first World Masters Championships in Gateshead, England.  This March Olga competed in her   last World Masters Championships in Budapest, Hungary.  Just last weekend, in the cold and rain, Olga competed in three events at the Langley Pacific Invitational meet.  She had three more meets on her schedule this year, the BC Masters Championships, the Trevor Craven Memorial and the BC Seniors Games.  You won’t be at these meets with us Olga, but we’ll feel your ‘spirit and presence’.
HJ OlgaWords from the Greyhounds: Olga was a valued member of the Greyhounds Masters Track and Field Club.  “Olga had a passion for competition and a hunger for life.”  “She set a wonderful example to (everyone), locally, nationally and worldwide of how to live a healthy and active lifestyle and how to compete fairly.”   She was “… strong, positive and independent” and “…was always quick to share a smile.”  “She had bright eyes, a keen sense of humour, and loved to share little stories with us …”.  “She was an inspiration to all who met her and (to those) who had the privilege to compete with her.”  “She was an ambassador for track and field (to young and old) and received much applause and admiration from both competitors and (non-athletes).”
Olga had an outstanding career in Masters track and field.  She won hundreds, perhaps more than a thousand, of medals in competitions around the world.  She participated in many provincial, national and international championships, almost always winning about 10 gold medals in the sprints, jumps and throws.  Olga set or broke more world Masters track and field records than any other athlete, setting records in the W80, W85, W90 and this year in the W95 age categories.  At the end of 2013, Olga still had 26 individual world records (indoors and outdoors) as well as two relay world records.  Since turning 95 this year, Olga competed in only three meets but she set or broke 14 more world records (7 indoors and 7 outdoors) in the W95 age group.
Olga KotelkoOlga won several awards.  She has been chosen as BC Athletics Female Athlete of the Year, Sport BC’s Masters Athlete of the Year, Canadian Masters Athletics Female Field Athlete of the Year, and has won the Vancouver YWCA’s Women of Distinction in Sports award.  Olga was often sought after as a motivational speaker, especially for seniors, to help promote fitness and health.
The name “Olga Kotelko” is undoubtedly the most recognized name in Masters track and field, not only by her peers, but also by the general public.  She has been interviewed by many magazines, newspapers, radio and television stations.  Olga has been interviewed by The Readers Digest, New York Times, Zoomer, Chatelaine, Parade and the Huffington Post (online) magazines.  She has also been interviewed by CBC Radio, CBC TV, Global TV, CTV, the BBC and the Daily Telegram of London, England.  Just this month Olga was interviewed by Aljazeera TV for a future program on older athletes.
In 2009, Olga was inducted into the Canadian Masters Athletics Hall of Fame.
Olga Kotelko always did it “The O. K. Way”

Prayers for Olga will be on Wednesday, July 2 at 7 pm. Funeral will be on Thursday, July 3 at 10 am. Both will be at St Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church,  550 West 14th Avenue, Vancouver


Some of the comments from Olga’s friends…..

  • Anne Gormley She was such inspiring athlete if we all competition as long as olga
  • Elizabeth Mitchell Sorry for the loss of your friend Doug ,from your posts I saw she was an extraordinary woman ,very inspirational ,she lived a full and happy life it seems doing what she loved !! Can’t ask for more than that
  • Wayne Horne Athletics is a celebration of life and Olga celebrated extremely well.
  • Loren Butler Such an inspiration!
  • Matt Beechey Very sad an inspiring lady to say the least
  • Mary Harada oh wow – I will miss her – she was such a delightful person but I have to say – glad she went quickly – we should all be so fortunate.
  • Anne Chetwynd How sad that she is no longer with us.  But my, what an inspiration she was to all.  She will be sorely missed.
  • Kelly Fitzsimmons So very sad, dear Olga was an inspirational hero to all of us. True spirit, true athlete, true legend.
  • Benoît Bertrand Condolences ! RIP Olga
    I had the privilege to host her with Doreen and Margareth Radcliffe, already many years ago!
    Beside track, she was a joyful person and make me laugh and so much to learn from her!
    Olga, Earl, Ed
  • Bill Pontius A sad day for all of  us. She was a wonderful presence at the meets I was fortunate enough to compete in along side her. Meeting her for the first time at the HJ pit in St John remains a highlight of my memories of that 2007 meet. Thank you Olga for your wonderful example of living to the fullest.
  • Frank Stebner So Sad! Olga really knew how to enjoy and make the best of her senior years!
  • Jill R. Vollweiler RIP Olga, thanks for the inspiration.
  • Rita Botelho So very sad indeed, RIP Olga.
  • Jean-Francois Latour It is indeed sad news… Thanks for letting us know Doug.
  • Kim Ross The most inspiring and amazing women…..a true legend. A sad day for all of us.
  • Charles Minor What an inspirational life!!
  • Elaine Weeks An amazing woman. She will be missed!
  • Bill Pearson Very sad news.  She was an inspiration to everyone in the Masters Track & Field Community and will be greatly missed.
  • Sarah Raetsen What shocking news to wake up to. I thought she’d live forever. Lyon won’t be the same without her.
  • Gary John Roversi My deepest sympathy Shaggy.
  • Roly McSorley RIP Olga.
  • Laird Sloan An amazing woman. I competed in the same high jump competition with her a couple of years ago.
  • Seanna Robinson A great inspiration. I’ll think of her today. She’s who I want to be in 50 + yrs.
  • Sherry Sani So very sad.  She was amazing!
  • Bill Cook Sad news. I felt I knew her because of your coverage.
  • Maryline Roux Oh no! … Our Dear Olga! What a sad loss. She was a ray of sunshine . She’s Eternal to me. Love her forever . May you rest in Peace amazing Olga! (((<3)))
  • Jane Leckey Very sad. I never met her but she seemed to be a real inspiration. Proof positive you need to live life fully!
  • Olga Long Jump, Kamloops 2014
    Elzbieta Graczyk Sad news. She was amazing.
  • Coreen Steinbach Oh, no! I can’t believe it.  This woman squeezed every ounce out of her incredible life.
  • Kathryn Petrie Very sorry to hear it, Doug.  I know she was your hero.  She had an amazing, full and very active life, right to the end.
  • Rob Earl condolences to her family, doug
  • Donna Dixon So sad. I thought she we would be with us for many more years.  Hard to believe as she was so full of energy in Budapest. She showed us the way to have an active, happy life.  Thank you Olga.
  • Doug Shaggy Smith When she turned 100 I was going to set up her own page on the web site 🙂
  • Jovette Jolicoeur In shock, what an athlete and remarkable person she was. She left her mark and will be remembered forever.
  • Elisabeth Dargie And a month ago she set six new world records. I wish there were going to be more, but she went out at the top of her game. Can’t really ask for anything more.
  • Melanie Chiu Oh my..amazing legacy and inspiration! RIP Olga.
  • Dmitry Babenko She will be in my heart forever. RIP Olga.
  • Ian Anderson Amazing life.
  • Linda Reid Very Sad news. She was remarkable!
  • Caroline Erentzen Thomas So sorry to hear this. What a legacy she has left!
  • Sue McCarthy-Yarsinske So sad. Such a great lady and roll model 🙁
  • Karen Huff-Pawlik Olga was our heroine. She was ever cheerful and such an inspiration. We just saw her in Budapest where she was the star.
  • Gunnar Durén That’s really, really sad and a great loss for masters athletics. Such a heroine. She will truly be missed. Let’s honour her memory by promising to never give up.
  • Jean Doench Oh dear,not good news at all
  • Don Young 🙁 I talk to my patients about Olga all the time. She will be missed, and I’ll still be talking about her.
  • Stephen G. Viegas Sorry for this loss to masters track and field.
  • Tara McWatters I love her book, such sad news.
  • Lynda Turner Such an inspiration. I will miss seeing her at meets.
  • Grant Lamothe I just saw Olga at a local track meet in Vancouver. She was doing what she always does: being cheerful, positive and vibrant and setting more world records. That lady went out in style -Olga, you’ll be missed.
  • Luiz Claudio Barreto Oh man… whatta a big loss!!!May god comfort her family!!! Bless!
  • Robin O’Connor I never met but your pictures have given me a sense of what an amazing woman she is…thank you. A life well lived!
  • Christine Williams OMGoodness, what sad news, what a legend and inspiration on how to live your life
  • Khashayar Sanjari she was the best we will miss her.
  • Michael Galasso My condolences!!!  I never knew her.  From the sounds of it I missed meeting someone very special!!
  • D’Arcy O’Neill My condolences to you for your friend. Sad, of course; yet it seems she (unknown to me) lived life well!
  • Mark Williams She was amazing!!!
  • Barbara Saunders So sad to hear about Olga, we all loved her so much.   One good thing sounds like she went out fast like she did her sports events.   She will certainly be missed.
  • Lawrence Williams I never knew her, though kept reading about all her records.  This seemed to have come so suddenly and is quite sad.
  • Anne de Thy I remember seeing her in Brazil, collecting yet another gold medal… I will miss her. She was a real inspiration.
  • Myrtle Carter One special lady….
  • Claire Lindell Remarkable lady…saw it on the news last evening .
    These last few days, since I head of the death of Olga Kotelko, have been some of my saddest days in a long time.  Olga was the nicest person on the planet, and I will treasure the time that I had with her in March, when she stayed in the same hotel as I did in Budapest, for the World Championships.  We saw a lot of her in the dining room of our hotel, and I had a few meals with her, during which she talked about her philosophy of life.  She was so positive, and inspired so many people from around the world, that we all have to continue to remember her, and continue to be inspired by her.  I know that I will be.  I’m not sure if I can get to Vancouver for her funeral, but I will certainly try, and will be there in spirit, in any case.


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