‘I don’t run to be second’: 100 year black WWII veteran smashes record at PENN relays

by Duchess Magazine
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So not done!

With eyes on the prize, while most of his mates would rather put their feet up in bed and just relax, sprinter Lester Wright just a
day after celebrating his 100th birthday, broke the record for his age group in the men’s 100-meter at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia on Saturday.

“It was pretty nice to be able to do this at age 100,” Wright told the Asbury Park Press. “When I came here, I was a little bit nervous, but when I saw the crowd and everything, I fell right in with it.”

On Saturday, Wright who impressed the crowd got a standing ovation with his incredible run.

According to FOX 29 News, this race is the first in three years for the WWII veteran since recovering from an illness, but make no mistake, he was fully ready and held on strongly against his 80-year-old up competitors at the Franklin field.

While 84-year-old Bob Williamson clinched the crown as the winner, Wright crossed the line in seventh place at 26.34, which surpassed the previously set record by Donald Pellmann in 2015 at 26.99 seconds, and yes, his performance was every inch deserving of the headlines.

Wright’s record-winning time has been ratified, according to the Asbury Park Press.

“I guess it’s really something that you don’t often hear about and it seems like it would be somewhat novel if I can get out there and really perform,” Wright, who turned 100 on Friday, told ABC in New York.

Born in 1922, Wright ran track for Long Branch High School in the 1930s and then married his teenage sweetheart, Adele. He later enlisted in the Army and traveled to Europe during World War II. During his service, Wright impressively earned four Bronze Battle Stars.

Following the war, Wright came home and attended college on the GI bill. He then opened the first African American-owned dental lab in Monmouth County, New Jersey, making prosthetic teeth, according to the Asbury Park Press.

But Wright’s passion for running didn’t diminish and in 1999, as a 77-year-old, he conquered the 75-and-over 100-meter dash at the Penn Relays.

As for his record-breaking feat, Wright believes that anyone can accomplish what he has done. He says it all starts with self-belief.

“At 100 meters, I feel like I’m just getting started,” Wright said. “I thought this was nice, but I wanted a longer race.”

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