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American Centenarian Athlete With 5 World Records Dies At 105

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There are Olympic medalists, and then there's Don Pellmann. At the 2015 San Diego Senior Olympics, he broke five track and field world records for his age group - the 100-meter dash, the shot put, the discus throw, the long jump and the high jump. He'd just turned 100 years old.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Later that year, in 2015, Don Pellmann told me he'd actually had an off day because it was so hot outside.

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DON PELLMANN: Well, when it was my 90th year, I competed in a national at Fort Collins, Colo., and I had a good day that day and set seven world records on that day.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

Well, Don Pellmann died on Sunday of failing health after a hip surgery, according to the Times of San Diego. He was 105 years old.

CORNISH: Around his 70th year, after he'd already retired, Pellmann ran his first track meet. The Senior Olympics had come to his small town in Arkansas, and his son urged him to enter.

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PELLMANN: I entered and happened to compete against the state champion in my first meet ever (laughter). And I beat him in five events.

CORNISH: He went on to enter 127 meets and won medals in all of them.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

PELLMANN: Most of them are gold.

SHAPIRO: His keys to success were modest but consistent - eating well, exercising daily and, it seems, taking his minor celebrity in stride.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

PELLMANN: Well, it's a little bit late in coming, and it's...

(LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: That's the late Donald Pellmann, senior Olympic champion. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.