Philippa (Phil) Raschker, of Marietta, Georgia, has been named Female World Masters Athlete of the Year by the World Masters Athletics Association (WMA), the organization designated by the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) to conduct the worldwide sport of masters track and field.The selection was made on October 28.
The WMA recognized Raschker for her 10 gold-winning performances at the World Masters Championships Meet in Italy in September, the 12 world records she established during her competitions this year, and her 27 gold medals at national championship meets in the United States.
Competing in the Women 60-64 age division (W60), Raschker won all nine of the individual events she entered at the World Championship Meet held in Riccione, Italy, September 4-15: heptathlon, 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault, 80 meter hurdles, and 300 meter hurdles. She earned her tenth gold medal as a member of the U.S. W55 4x100 meter relay team. During the competition she established a new World Record for W60 in the 80 meter hurdles (13.26 seconds). This 17th edition of the world masters track and field competition, held biennially for athletes over 35 years of age, featured over 9000 athletes from over 100 countries.
For her great accomplishments at the meet, Raschker was selected as the Outstanding Athlete of the Games; she received a silver trophy to recognize her achievement.The World Championship Meet capped a record breaking year for Raschker, who turned 60 in February. In March, at the USATF National Masters Heptathlon Championships in Kenosha, Wis., Raschker scored 6904 points in the grueling seven event competition, not only a World Record for her age group but more points than any man or woman of any age has ever scored in that event. En route to that World Record, she achieved a World Record in the 60m hurdles (10.28 seconds), and American records in the long jump (4.29m/14-0.75meters) and high jump (1.34 meters/4 feet 4.75).
Just a few weeks later in March, Raschker continued her record setting performances at the USATF National Masters Indoor Track and Field Championships in Boston, setting world records in the pentathlon (4844 points), 60m hurdles (10.04 seconds), and 200 meter (28.94 seconds) events. She also set American records in the 60m dash (8.87 seconds), long jump (4.37m/14-4), and triple jump (8.88m/29-1.75), and won gold medals in the high jump and pole vault.
Following her indoor season, Raschker began attacking the outdoor record book. At the USATF National Masters Decathlon/Heptathlon Championships in Birmingham, Ala., in June, Raschker set an incredible heptathlon world record of 6,885 points. During the seven event competition she set individual event world records in the 80 meter hurdles (13.50 seconds) and the high jump (1.44m/4-8.75).
Competing in the 2007 National Senior Games (the senior Olympics) in Louisville, Ky., on July 1-4, Raschker set one world record, two U.S. records, and seven meet records. Raschker set the W60 world record in the 400 meters with her time of 1:06.69. She set American records in the long jump (4.73m/15-6.25) and triple jump (9.63m/31-7.25). Raschker's time in the 100 meter final was 13.67 seconds, a significant improvement over the existing world record of 13.89 seconds; however, the wind gauge during that race recorded 2.8 meters per second, over the allowable limit of 2.0 for record consideration.
At the 2007 USA National Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships held August 2-5 in Orono, Maine, Raschker continued her string of great performances, earning ten gold medals, two world records, and one American record. Her world records came in the 200 meter dash (28.54 seconds) and the pentathlon (4953 points), and her American record came in the 300m hurdles (52.17 seconds).
Raschker's accomplishments for the year would be a lifetime achievement for most other athletes: 12 world records, 31 American records, 10 gold medals and the Athlete of the Games Award at the World Championships, and 27 gold medals at the five U.S. National championship meets. This was another great year in her storied career as a track and field athlete, where the quality of her performances, the quantity of her gold medals at national and international competitions, and the variety of events in which she competes at an elite level have earned her recognition unmatched in the annals of her sport.
Raschker has won 58 World Championship gold medals since she started competing in World Championship Meets in 1983. She has received the USATF Outstanding Female Masters Track and Field Athlete of the Year Award 13 times since its inception in 1979, the USATF Outstanding Female Combined-Events Masters Track and Field Athlete of the Year Award eight times since its inception in 1991, induction into the USATF Masters Hall of Fame in 1997, and induction into the National Senior Games Hall of Fame in 2005.
Recognition of her excellence has gone beyond the sport of track and field. In 2003, Raschker became the oldest nominee and first Masters Track and Field Athlete finalist for the prestigious AAU Sullivan Award, given annually to the country's top amateur athlete. She has been highlighted as a Face in the Crowd in Sports Illustrated 4 times, and described in 1997 by the New York Times as "The Most Versatile Track and Field Athlete of the World".
"It is a great honor and a thrill to be named the Female World MastersAthlete of the Year," said Raschker. "I worked very hard this year and was pleased to have the successes I did. I want to thank the WMA and IAAF for this honor, and I want to thank the many U.S. and international officials and fellow athletes who supported me during the year." Raschker will receive a trip to the Principality of Monaco in Europe to receive her award on November 25 at the IAAF World Athletics Gala in Monte Carlo.